Strathclyde Centre for Law, Crime & Justice Research Seminar

Wednesday 3rd October 2018 2.30-4pm

Showing Remorse: How do Courts Decide Whether a Defendant has Shown Remorse? Why does it matter?

Professor Richard Weisman, York University, Toronto, Canada

To Book Your Place:

When a person is harmed, how, if at all, should legal decision-makers consider the character of the person responsible? What difference, if any does an admission of culpability make? Is remorse relevant? Should it be? In any event, how can it be identified? Does it depend on the nature of the harm, or on elements of character?  

Prof Richard Weisman offers a distinctive perspective. His work focuses not only on these normative questions, but also how remorse is interpreted by courts and other bodies (e.g. parole boards, truth & reconciliation commissions etc). How is remorse shown and what are the consequences  - for example for fairness and equality?

In particular, this seminar asks participants to explore: 

  • Why do the criminal courts emphasize the showing of remorse more than the offering of an apology as the true measure of the wrongdoer's character?


  • Why does remorse play such a central role in all phases of the disposition of defendants in modern criminal justice systems?


  • Why is the attribution of remorse is so contentious within law and a site of debate and controversy in academic research?  

Dr Richard Weisman is Professor Emeritus, Law and Society Programme, York University, Toronto, Canada. He is the author of Showing Remorse: Law and the Social Control of Emotion, 2014, Ashgate Press; paperback edition, 2016, Routledge Press. During the past twenty years, he has written extensively in academic journals on various aspects of the role of remorse in law.   

To Book Your Place: