Evaluation of the law on voluntary manslaughter

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Evaluation of voluntary manslaughter requires a critical analysis of the two specific defences to murder: loss of control and diminished responsibility.

Loss of Control: Fear of serious violence

The first qualifying trigger in loss of control attempts to address the issue faced by women who kill their partners after suffering abuse by them, illustrated in the case of Ahluwalia (1992). Under the law on provocation, there had to be a sudden and temporary loss of control. Woman are usually physically weaker than men and are therefore less likely to react straight away when attacked by a violent partner. The removal of the suddenness requirement is a positive change, as is the recognition that killing through fear is as justified as killing through anger. However, it is still necessary to lose self-control based on fear, and this may prove to be difficult…


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