In each youth justice system, several age limits exist that indicate what type of reaction can and may be connected to the degree of responsibility that a person can already bear. Civil liability, criminal responsibility and criminal majority are examples of concepts on which age limits are based, but whose definition and impact is not always clear. Especially as far as the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) is concerned, confusion exists in legal doctrine. This is apparent from the fact that international comparison tables often show different MACRs for the same country. Moreover, the international literature often seems to define youth justice systems by means of a lower and upper limit, whereas such a dual distinction is too basic to comprehend the complex multilayer nature of the systems. This contribution therefore maps out and conceptually clarifies the different interpretations and consequences of the several age limits that exist within youth justice systems. To that extent, the age limits of six countries are analysed: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Northern Ireland. This legal comparison ultimately leads to a proposal to establish a coherent conceptual framework on age limits in youth justice.

Additional Metadata
Keywords youth justice, age limits, minimum age of criminal responsibility, age of criminal majority, legal comparison
Persistent URL,
Series Erasmus Law Review
Journal Erasmus Law Review
Leenknecht, J., Put, J., & Veeckmans, K. (2020). Age Limits in Youth Justice: A Comparative and Conceptual Analysis. Erasmus Law Review, 13(1), 13–30. doi:10.5553/ELR.000151