Faculty of Law

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but should it be? Questioning the bluntness of the doctrine in the 21st century

Andrew Ashworth was the Vinerian Professor of English Law from 1997 to 2013 at the University of Oxford and is now Emeritus Professor. Andrew recently visited the Faculty of Law and talked to senior lecturer Dr Jeremy Prichard and PhD candidate Charlotte Hunn.

In this conversational interview, Andrew discusses his ideas about ignorance of the law. He invites legal professionals, academics and policy makers to revisit a very old and established criminal law doctrine – that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Andrew argues that the doctrine can lead to injustices, especially when new or particularly complex laws are passed. In an age of continual expansion in the criminal law, Andrew proposes that a duty rests on the state to take reasonable steps to publicise new laws in certain circumstances.

Published on: 10 Nov 2017 3:46pm