WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
February 19 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Law Commission probes defences in domestic homicide cases

Law Commission probes defences in domestic homicide cases

The Government has tasked the Law Commission to conduct a thorough review of the application of defences in cases of domestic homicide.

The move is largely a response to a March 2023 domestic homicide sentencing review, which found that the vulnerability of people trapped in abusive relationships has not been considered in policy where murders have been committed in a domestic context.

Welcomed by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, this review represents a significant shift in the challenges faced by victims of domestic abuse within the criminal justice system. The Commissioner underscored the importance of this reform, especially in understanding the complexities of coercive control and its implications.

Back in 2004, the Law Commission had put forth recommendations aimed at reshaping partial defences in murder cases. The Commission’s current project revisits these issues, aiming to align them with today’s understanding of domestic abuse. This will involve an extensive consultation process with a diverse group of stakeholders, including victims of domestic abuse, legal professionals, and academics, to gain a clear view of the challenges involved.

Another area of focus will be the controversial ‘rough sex’ defence. This defence has been used by individuals accused of murder or serious harm where they allege that any death or injury occurred because of consensual rough sexual activity. The Law Commission’s review aims to understand the application of such arguments in the context of domestic homicide, acknowledging the complex scenarios where victims of abuse may resort to lethal actions.

With initial research underway, the Law Commission anticipates progressing toward a consultation phase for proposing reforms in the Spring of 2024. This is a step towards more empathetic and informed legal approaches to domestic homicide cases, ensuring the law more effectively addresses the realities of domestic abuse and supports those affected.