The Law Commission has proposed replacing the current offence of misconduct in public office with two new offences. Rahman Ravelli’s Aziz Rahman wrote for New Law Journal about the shortcomings of the current law.
In his article, Aziz explains why he thinks the current law is ambiguous and confusing and why the Commission’s proposals could bring some much-needed clarity.
He argues that the offence of misconduct in public office has needed to be reformed for some time, with it having drawn criticism from the government, Court of Appeal, legal commentators and academics. With the current law not clearly identifying what is meant by ‘misconduct’ or who holds ‘public office’ it is, he says, vulnerable to misuse or overuse and could be used as a catch-all offence.
The Law Commission has concluded that the existing offence should be repealed and replaced with two statutory offences, corruption in public office and breach of duty in public office.
Aziz believes such a move would remove the uncertainty that hampers the existing offence, as it would make it clear who is covered by each offence and what constitutes misconduct in practice. As a result, he would expect a reversal of the present trend, where increasing numbers of prosecutions are not being matched by a corresponding rise in convictions.
Aziz's article featured in the New Law Journal. (Subscription required)