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Criminal | Offences Against The Person

Voluntary Manslaughter: Evaluation & Reform

Revision Note | A Level

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  • voluntary manslaughter has been considered in need of reform
  • Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (CJA 2009) reformed parts of Homicide Act 1957 (HA 1957)

Reform of the law

  • HA 1957 contained two partial defences: provocation and diminished responsibility
  • CJA 2009 replaced provocation, with loss of control
  • loss of control is wider: no requirement for it to be sudden and fear of serious violence can be considered
  • loss of control is narrower: sexual infidelity is no longer a qualifying trigger, things said or done then they must be extremely grave in nature and have caused a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged

Further reform

  • despite recent reforms concerns still persist
  • some to argue that loss of control is too restrictive
  • Law Commission proposed removing the loss of control criteria completely
  • for example Ds in an abusive relationship may kill from a combination of emotions, not necessarily a loss of control
  • arguments have been made it is unfair sexual infidelity is excluded
  • common law provocation defence allowing sexual infidelity grew out of prevalence of such cases
  • it is argued many people would lose control after finding out about partner having an affair
  • some argue because fear of serious violence must have lead to loss of control it is too restrictive
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