Voluntary manslaughter - Loss of Control


The comon law partial defence of provocatuon has been abolished. S3 of the Homicide Act 1957, which modified the common law defence of provocation, ceases to have effect. A new partial defence of 'loss of control' is provided in s54 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

s54 of the Act provides that where the defendant kills or is a party to the killing of another, the defendant shall not be convicted of murder if...

  • The defendant's acts or omissions in doing or being a party to the killing resulted from his loss of control
  • The loss of control had a qualifying trigger
  • A person of the defendant's sex and age, with a normal degree of self restraint and in the circumstances of the defendant, might have acted in the same or similar way to the defendant. 

The loss of control:

  • This does not have to be sudden, there may be a time delay between the qualifying trigger and the reaction of the defendant in killing the defendant. But, the longer the delay the less likely the jury will believe the killing resulted from a loss of control. This is different to the old law of provocation, where loss of control had to be 'temporary and sudden'.
  • In relation to the old law of provocation difficulties were faced by female victims of domestic abuse. Many failed on the 'sudden and temporary' point as there was a 'cooling off' period between the provocative conduct and the killing. Under the new law, cases such as Ahluwalia (1992) may be able to use the new defence as 'sudden' does not mean…


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