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The doctrine of diminished responsibility in English criminal law

Lownie, Ralph H (1989) The doctrine of diminished responsibility in English criminal law. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86181) (KAR id:86181)


This thesis examines the development of the doctrine of diminished responsibility in English criminal law since its introduction by section 2 of the Homicide Act, 1957. Initially the study considers whether the concept has a sound jurisprudential base and attempts to trace its roots in English law prior to 1957, including the political background to the Act and the drafting of section 2, As it was claimed at its inception that what had been done was to 'adopt and adapt' the doctrine of diminished responsibility then existing in Scotland, the relevant law of Scotland is examined both before and after 1957. It is the main contention of this thesis that not only has English law adopted and adapted the Scottish doctrine but in the thirty years since, in contradistinction to Scotland, has greatly 'advanced' the doctrine. A critical examination has been made of the character and scope of the doctrine as set out in the Act and the interpretation given to the elements of the section by the courts over the years under review. This has involved considering in detail all the reported cases together with a comprehensive survey of all the cases in the first five years of the Act and in the period 1980 -1984. Sample files have been examined over a period at the Old Bailey, a shire court and a northern industrial court. Particular conditions which appear to fall within the doctrine (mental retardation, schizophrenia, epilepsy, etc.) are examined together with ancillary and associated conditions (psychopaths, irresistible impulse, P.M.T. and mercy killing) which have won a place under the section. A close examination has been made of the changing attitudes of the judiciary to procedural matters and to sentencing. The future of the doctrine in terms of the Penal Code has come under scrutiny as have discernible trends to absorb other defences such as insanity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86181
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Uncontrolled keywords: Homicide Act 1957
Subjects: K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:32 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 11:34 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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