Provocation definition


A special defence to a charge of murder under s3 of the Homicide Act 1957 which allows the jury to consider whether the defendant lost his self-control and killed because he was provoked by ‘things done or by things said or by both together’. This covers a wide range of matters, such as being teased about a facial scar, racial abuse, being battered by one’s partner or even the crying of a baby. If the defence is successful, the charge will be reduced to manslaughter.

To show there was provocation, the defence must establish that:

• the defendant suffered a sudden and temporary loss of self-control;
• the things that provoked him would also have caused a reasonable man to be provoked and do as the defendant did.

In DPP v Camplin (1978) the House of Lords ruled that the reasonable person was someone of the same age and sex as the defendant and sharing any characteristics which are relevant to the provocation.

In later cases other characteristics were allowed but in Attorney-General for Jersey v Holley (2005) the Privy Council held that for the purposes of deciding the level of self-control to be expected from the defendant, they should be judged by the standard of ordinary powers of self-control of a person of the same sex and age.
However, other characteristics can be considered in deciding the gravity of the provocation to the defendant.

There are provisions in the Coroners and Criminal Justice Bill 2009 for the


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