Diminished responsibility–the new law

by TheEditor

Categories: Law, Reporting

This is an exploration of how the latest amendment to the Homicide Act 1957 (by S52 of the Coroner’s Act 2009) will apply. It is a graphical representation, for ease of visualisation and understanding.

Diminished Responsibilty – Homicide Act 1957 – As Amended by Coroner’s Act 2009

I note importantly that:
1. S2(1) – contains a number of clauses that work conjunctively.
2. S2(1A) underpins S2(1)b
3. S2(1)c in being underpinned by S2(1B), creates an exceedingly high bar by introducing ‘causation’ as a legal test.

Most importantly, note that S2(1A) and S2(1B) feed back into S2(1). So in essence S2(1) is complete. 2(1A) and 2(1B) are there to raise the bar and narrow the ‘crack’.

Even if S2(1)a is satisfied in part for abnormality of mental functioning (AMF) arising from a recognised medical condition, the hurdles become more difficult to surmount, as the defendant’s AMF must be substantially impaired in three important respects. S2(1B) is really difficult to satisfy because ‘causation’ in whole or in part, is introduced. This test is likely to be failed in quite a number of cases if expert opinion evidence is not persuasive in:

  1. Showing path and the strength of causation, with robust references to the evidence.
  2. Showing how the AMF explains the defendant’s conduct (in whole), or (in part) that the AMF is a significantly contributory factor in causing  the conduct. But there is no escape from causation.

At least 5 of 6 primary tests must be satisfied and feed positively into S2(1) to meet the requirements for a successful defence.

See also: e-lawresources

[Disclaimer: the above is provided without warranty or any claim to accuracy. I accept no liability for loss or damage arising from misinterpretation or misapplication of the law arising from this post.]


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