PURPOSE OF CODIFICATION OF CRIMINAL LAW

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The Criminal Law Code gathers together in one piece of legislation all the main aspects of branch of law. It brings together all major aspects of the Criminal Law. However, the Code does not codify all the criminal law – quite a lot continues to be contained in statutes other than Code e.g. motoring offences still contained in Road Traffic Act

 

The Code also effects a series of reforms and improvements to pre-existing law. Thus the title refers to both codification and reform of Criminal Law. Wherever possible Latin terms and unnecessary technical terms are avoided.

 

Previously the law was widely dispersed. It was contained in common law and a large number of different statutes. Locating common law dealing with crime or defence was often a laborious exercise. It involved tracing back to original common law and then ascertaining how over the years the Zimbabwean courts (and also the South African courts) had interpreted and applied that common law. Also a considerable amount of the previous Criminal Law was contained in variety of different statutes. By gathering together in one place these various laws, the Code improves the general accessibility. But it is more for lawyers. Most ordinary people are not likely to obtain copies of the Code and carefully study its contents.

 

The Code seek to comply with principle of legality that criminal law should be laid down in advance in clear and precise terms and, impliedly, should be ascertainable and accessible so that citizens can know in advance whether the intended conduct would fall foul of the law.

 

The Code does not avoid need for judicial interpretation. The Code provisions set out law in broad terms. The provisions must be interpreted and applied to concrete situations. The body of case law decided before Code is still relevant, at least in respect of provisions of the Code that have incorporated the previous law without change.