Ministry of Justice
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Murder law changes take effect

Changes to the law on murder contained in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 come into force yesterday.

These provisions:

  • replace the partial defence to murder of diminished responsibility with a modernised definition based on the concept of ‘an abnormality of mental functioning which arose from a recognised medical condition'
  • abolish the existing partial defence to murder of provocation. This will be replaced by the partial defence to murder of ‘loss of control’. The partial defence will be available where a person’s loss of self control was attributable to a fear of serious violence, or in response to words or conduct which caused the defendant to have a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged
  • amend the Infanticide Act 1938 so that it is clear that the offence and defence of infanticide are available only in respect of a woman who would otherwise be found guilty of murder or manslaughter.

These changes are based on Law Commission recommendations made in their review of homicide law in 2006 and were fully debated by Parliament and passed into law in 2009.

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