Criticising Voluntary Manslaughter

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  • Criticising voluntary manslaughter
    • Introduction
      • Following the Law Commission Report on Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide 2006 parliament enacted the Criminal Justice Act 2009
      • The law on diminished responsibility and provocation were updated to include a more detailed description
        • Provocation was replaced with Loss of Control and Diminished Responsibility was improved to include a new section of the criminal justice act which states that only a recognised psychiatric disorder on the world health organisation list will class as a abnormality of mental functioning
      • The law on Loss of Control can still be criticised.
    • Meaning of 'Loss of Control'
      • The Law Commission considers a loss of self-control to be a ''judicially invested concept'' which lacks a ''clear foundation in psychology.
      • There is no medical definition all we have is that from Duffy which states you have lost control if you are no longer 'master of your own mind' i.e.. you are acting in a way you can't control
        • The Law Commission considers a loss of self-control to be a ''judicially invested concept'' which lacks a ''clear foundation in psychology.
      • Loss of Control was kept in by the government who thought it would be used in  cases involving honour killings or gang violence (Ministry of Justice CP/19/18).
        • However this is not necessary as we have the justifiable sense of being serious wronged trigger' excluding these killings
      • Provocation is presumed to mean anger instead of fear and desperation and despite changing the name to a loss of control it still had these connotations
    • The fear of serious violence trigger
      • This was designed to include victims of abuse. However the defence still requires a loss of control so the Law Commission wanted it removed all together.
        • The problems is if you look at cases like Ahluwalia the defence of loss of control would not apply because the defendant waited to her husband fell asleep and so had a cooling off period (Ballie) and this would not amount to a immediate loss of control.
      • The law commission pointed out that women are more likely to act out due to a combination of anger, fear, frustration and a sense of desperation rather than due to their loss of self control
        • It seems appropriate, particularily in the case of Ahluwalia to apply the rules of self defence, rather than loss of control. By doing this a reasonable amount of force would amount to a loss of control but not excessive force.
    • Sexual Infidelity
      • The problem is that of s.55 (6) (c) the fact that the thing said or done constituted sexual infidelity is to be disregarded
        • The government did not want sexual infidelity to be used as an excuse for men to use violence on their wives.
          • However from Clinton, and as illustrated in a report by Neil Cobb in 2012, we now have the exception that the sexual infidelity provided an ''essential part of the context'' of another qualifying trigger and due to this it can be mentioned if it helps explain the circumstances
        • Another problem is that sexual infidelity is vague.
          • We are not clear as to what would amount to sexual infidelity. It could be kissing, or going on holiday with someone who isn't your wife.
          • Also, if juroros are told about the sexual infidelity it might make them change their judgement (they might be sympathetic towards the defendant or victim)
          • We also will only ever have evidence from the defendant and not the victim.
  • Reforms
    • The Law Commission recommended a three tiered structure for homicide; First degree (intent to kill), second degree (intent to harm) and manslaughter (no intent)
    • The Law Commission have proposed adding new criteria as if the defendant is in an abusive relationship he/ she may kill from a combination or emotions
    • It has been argued that because of a fear of serious violence must have led to a loss of control it should be restricted, because as already stated people kill due to a number of reasons.
    • The Court of Appeal show an 'obvious distaste'' for the sexual infidelity exclusion clause in Clinton, and it may be that the Supreme Court changes the law in the future.


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