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Coroners and Justice Act 2009

Section 56:  Abolition of common law defence of provocation

350.Section 56 abolishes the common law defence of provocation, and consequently repeals section 3 of 1957 Act and the equivalent Northern Ireland provision, namely section 7 of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1966. Section 3 supplemented the common law principles relating to provocation by providing that the issue of whether the provocation was enough to make a reasonable person do as the defendant did should be left to be determined by the jury. This has been interpreted as meaning that a judge must leave the partial defence to the jury even where the evidence is such that no jury properly directed could reasonably conclude that a reasonable person would have reacted as the defendant did. This is in contrast to the common law position that existed prior to the Homicide Act 1957, where the judge was not required to leave the issue to the jury in such circumstances.

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