Alison Young


Abused wives--Legal status, laws, etc.; Marital violence--Law and legislation; Homicide--Law and legislation; England; Canada

Document Type



This article examines the defences in English and Canadian criminal law available to battered women who kill their abusers. The article sets out in detail the formation and evolution of the doctrinal interpretation, in English law, of the defences of provocation, diminished responsibility, and self-defence. Current case law is examined, including the recent cases of Thornton and Ahluwalia. The objective of the essay is to provide a critical context, namely the legal construction of the phenomenon of conjugal violence, in which we can see the current elaboration of these defences. The Canadian position is investigated, by means of a thorough reading of Laval/e, in order to provide a comparative critique of the inadequacies of the English criminal defences. In conclusion, the article proposes several possible sources of reform, through which the defences in English law might be brought closer to the Canadian position.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.