Provocation and Pluralism
This chapter reflects on the development of provocation, as a statutory defence to a murder charge, in recent (post-1990) English law. It focuses on the repeated and often conflicting attempts of the courts to find a way of accommodating differences between people in the structure of the defence. It argues that these attempts have got out of hand, and explains how, even on its most conservative interpretation, the Homicide Act 1957 already provides three different ways of factoring differences between defendants into the criteria for a successful provocation defence. The chapter also argues that these three ways are enough, and do not need further expansion in the directions sometimes favoured by the courts. The argument, in particular, applies the theory (developed in Chapter 6) according to which those who plead an excuse claim to have lived up to a standard, not to be exempted from it.
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