Criticisms and reforms or murder and manslaughter

Topics: Murder, Manslaughter, Life imprisonment Pages: 4 (1406 words) Published: March 24, 2014
Despite some recent reforms, there are still criticisms to be made of the current law on murder and voluntary manslaughter. Consider relevant criticisms of that law, and suggest any reforms that may be appropriate.

Despite recent reforms on the law of murder and voluntary manslaughter; including the special defence of diminished responsibility and loss of control, there are still inconsistencies present making the law unsatisfactory. This area of the law is in ‘dire need of reform’; as pointed out by the Law Commission in their 2006 report; Murder, Manslaughter and infanticide. The report stated how ‘The Law governing homicide in England and Wales is a rickety structure built upon shaky foundations.’ One of the main areas pointed out by the Law Commission was the bit by bit development of the law leading to a lack of coherence. This lack of coherence can be seen in the uncertain meaning of ‘intention’. Intention is a vital element of murder in regards to proving D having the sufficient mens rea. Despite multiple attempts by the House of Lords to explain what effect foresight of consequences has; s8 CJA 1967 it is still unclear. In Moloney it was ruled foresight of consequences was not intention; it was only evidence from which intention could be inferred. However, in the case of Woolin the HoL spoke of intention being found from foresight of consequences. This left it unclear whether it is a substantive rule of law or a rule of evidence and the following case of Mathews ad Alleyne confused matters more after stating there was little difference between the two. In my view this could be resolved if a definition of foresight of consequences was provided in a statutory definition; making applying the law easier for jury’s. The Law Commission also pointed out that when Parliament passed the Homicide Act in 1957 they had never intended a killing to amount to murder unless the D realised his conduct might cause death. However, currently where D intends to cause GBH,...
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