Chair: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Institute of Criminology (Malaga, Spain)


The Criminal Law-Making Policy ESC Working Group (hereafter "the Group") aims to build a scientific debate forum in which cross-national experiences and information are gathered to study how criminal legislative decisions are taken and how they could be improved.

It is our conviction that, despite legislator's through elections legitimacy to pass criminal laws, this does not exclude the possibility of monitoring and improving the legislative process. Higher quality in criminal legislation is possible and desirable, and the tools needed to achieve this goal should be made available by experts from social sciences.

In such endeavour, empirical research as well as theoretical development is highly needed. An inter-disciplinary approach which makes sure the cooperation among criminologists, legal experts, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists, public administration and management experts, etc. seems unavoidable.

Fields of interest

  1. Legislative process: the Group interest in legislative processes embraces a wide conception of it rather than a strictly legal one

    a. It first concerns with the sociological process that takes place before legislative decisions reach political institutions such as Government or Parliament. In these sociological pre-legislative stages social, economic and political groups of interest, as well as the media, among others, may play a leading role in the definition of the problem and of possible alternatives to confront it.

    b. The Group is also interested on the central stage in criminal law-making: the legislative stage, where the Executive and Legislative branches discuss within and between them a legislative draft and push it through successive phases.

    c. Though it is common to assume that criminal law-making process ends with the enactment of the law, the need for a subsequent third phase has become clear in recent times. The evaluation of the law enforcement, its ability to achieve the established goals and the possible collateral effects is a key element to improve criminal law-making. Bearing in mind that legislation is a continuous and circular process, the collection of new data and information from current experience paves the way for new and better legal reforms.

  2. Rational decision law-making: the concept of rationality has proved to be suitable for arguments, discourses and decisional analysis. It is, of course, a complex concept that needs to be made operational, and deep efforts are being made in such direction by a number of scholars. Through the development of a refined concept of rationality, decisions adopted by those engaged in the criminal law-making process may be scrutinized. Rationality as a theoretical and normative model helps us to tackle with the varied elements involved in legislative decision-making, establishing a certain order and differentiation among them. So far, legislative rationality has been divided into five levels: ethical, teleological, pragmatic, systematic and linguistic, each of them providing the opportunity for analysing relevant issues involved in each of them.

  3. Constitutional control of criminal law-making: All our efforts to build a better legislative decision process need a body with the authority to enforce the rules and regulations previously agreed, such representing a third branch of the Group interests. Legislative bodies must be accountable for their actions, not only politically, but also legally, and Constitutional Courts could play a significant role in endorsing or disapproving criminal legislation. Certainly this constitutional control should never be understood as a substitution for legislator's will, but it could definitely set the standards that criminal legislation is expected to observe.

It is worth of taking into account how the study of all these issues benefits from the comparative perspective, inherent to ESC Working Groups. The experience and information brought in by Criminal Law-Making Group members ensure the best possible scenario to engage in the development of scientifically founded recommendations for public authorities working in the criminal law-making process.

As has been said, the need of an interdisciplinary approach is urgent to go beyond the legal approach which, though needed, greatly benefits from other social sciences´ perspectives.

Current members:

  1. Ayling, Julie
  2. Bárd, Petra
  3. Becerra, José
  4. Brandariz, Jose Angel
  5. Cepas, Algimantas
  6. Díez-Ripollés, José Luis
  7. Dünkel, Frieder
  8. Faraldo-Cabana, Patricia
  9. Gálvez-Bermúdez, Carlos
  10. García-Ruiz, Ascensión
  11. Hack, Peter
  12. Király, Eszter
  13. Lappi-Seppälä, Tapio
  14. Larrauri Pijoan, Elena
  15. Levay, Miklós
  16. Marteache, Nerea
  17. Osorio, Frank
  18. Persak, Nina
  19. Raduly, Zsuzsa
  20. Reyes-Reyes, Magda Stella
  21. Róth, Erika
  22. Sárik, Eszter
  23. Sodini, Daniela
  24. Tonry, Michael
  25. Viveiros, Carlos Domenico
  26. Martínez Francisco, Nieves
  27. Samuel Rodríguez Ferrández

Themed panel sessions:

We are currently working on panel sessions for the 2014 ESC Conference. We warmly invite all interested persons to join the Group and participate in such panels.

Do not hesitate to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..