Law Reform

A New Homicide Act for England & Wales? Law Commission consultation.

PUBLISHED January 26, 2006

In the Law Commission's 2004 report, Partial Defences to Murder (LC290), it described the current law on murder as "a mess" and recommended a complete review of the law of murder. In October 2004, the Home Office announced that such a review would take place.  This was confirmed on 21 July 2005, when Home Office Minister Fiona MacTaggart announced the terms of reference of a comprehensive review of murder law.

The Law Commission's consultation paper was published on 20 December 2005.  The closing date for responses is 13 April 2006.   It aims to provide the Home Office with its provisional recommendations in early Summer 2006 and will publish a final report in Autumn 2006.

The terms of reference are: -

  1. To review the various elements of murder, including the defences and partial defences to it, and the relationship between the law of murder and the law relating to homicide (in particular manslaughter). The review will make recommendations that:
  • take account of the continuing existence of the mandatory life sentence for murder; 
  • provide coherent and clear offences which protect individuals and society;
  •  enable those convicted to be appropriately punished; and
  •  be fair and non-discriminatory in accordance with ECHR and Human Rights Act 
  1. The process used will be open, inclusive and evidence based:
  • a review structure that will look to include key stakeholders;
  • consultation with the public, criminal justice practitioners, academics, those who work with victims families, parliamentarians, faith groups; 
  • looking at evidence from research and from the experiences of other countries in reforming their law.