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Homicide Law to be Included in Law Reform Programme

The Scottish Law Commission has published its Tenth Programme of Law Reform, which will form the basis for most of the Commission’s work over the next five years. The Programme has been approved by Scottish Ministers and laid before the Scottish Parliament.

As part of this programme of work, the Commission intends to review the laws relating to homicide, and in particular to examine the principles underlying and the boundaries between the crimes of murder and culpable homicide; and the mental element required for the commission of each of these offences.

The Commission highlights that under the current law the mental element of these crimes is defined in terms of concepts and language from a bygone age. This can give rise to difficulties in understanding and applying the law and in directing juries in modern and accessible terms.

The project will therefore consider how the mental element for the various types of homicide should be expressed and how differing degrees of culpability should be reflected in the law.

It will also examine the nature, scope and definitions of the main defences that arise in cases of homicide; these include self-defence; provocation; and diminished responsibility.

As part of its review, the Commission will carry out a comparative analysis of the approach taken in other jurisdictions, and will also seek the views of stakeholders, including practitioners and members of the academic community.

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Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.