Judgement of Death Act 1823
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The Judgement of Death Act 1823 (c.48; repealed) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (although it did not apply to Scotland). Passed at a time when there were over 200 offences in English law which carried a mandatory sentence of death, it gave judges the discretion to pass a lesser sentence for the first time. It did not apply to treason or murder. The Act actually required judges to enter a sentence of death on the court record, but then allowed them to commute the sentence to imprisonment.
The Act was repealed by the Courts Act 1971 (repealed in 1980 in Northern Ireland). Since piracy with violence was still a capital crime, this had the (presumably unintended) effect of making the death penalty for that offence mandatory again, until the death penalty was abolished in 1998.
- Courts Act 1971, Schedule 11: Repeals, Part IV