The House was asked two questions: the meaning of ‘confession’ for the purposes of section 76(1) of the 1984 Act, and as to the defence of duress. The defendant had been involved in burglary, being told his family would be harmed if he refused. The person making the threat had boasted of murders one of which at least was later verified.
Held: Lord Bingham said: ‘Duress is now properly to be regarded as a defence which, if established, excuses what would otherwise be criminal conduct.’ Baker and Ward must be overruled: ‘There need not be foresight of coercion to commit crimes, although it is not easy to envisage circumstances in which a party might be coerced to act lawfully.’ The policy of the law must be to discourage association with known criminals, and it should be slow to excuse the criminal conduct of those who do so. If a person voluntarily becomes or remains associated with others engaged in criminal activity in a situation where he knows or ought reasonably to know that he may be the subject of compulsion by them or their associates, he cannot rely on the defence of duress to excuse any act which he is thereafter compelled to do by them. As to the nature of the confession under s76(2), section 76(1), read with section 82(1), requires the court to interpret a statement in the light of the circumstances when it was made. A purely exculpatory statement (e.g. ‘I was not there’) is not within the scope of section 76(1). It is not a confession within the meaning of section 76. The safeguards of section 76 are not applicable. But the safeguards of section 78 are available.
Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Steyn, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood
 UKHL 22, Times 21-Mar-2005,  2 AC 467,  2 WLR 709,  4 All ER 685
Bailii, House of Lords
Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 76(1), Human Rights Act 1998 3
England and Wales
On Appeal from – Regina v Z CACD 27-Feb-2003
The defendant appealed his conviction, saying the judge had misdirected the jury as to his defence of duress. He had worked as a driver and minder in an escort agency whose owner came to be associated with a man who claimed to him responsibility for . .
Cited – Attorney-General v Whelan 20-Dec-1933
(Court of Criminal Appeal – Ireland) The appellant had been tried as part of a conspiracy to steal and to receive stolen good. He was acquitted of the conspiracy, but now appealed against his conviction for theft despite his assertion that he acted . .
Cited – Hibbert v The Queen 1995
(Canada) Defence of duress. . .
Cited – Regina v Cole CACD 21-Feb-1994
Pending clarification, the defence of duress is not to be extended. As to necessity as a defence, the peril relied on in this case to support the plea of necessity lacked imminence and the degree of directness and immediacy required of the link . .
Cited – Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland v Lynch HL 1975
The House considered the availability of duress as a defence on a charge of aiding and abetting murder. Referring to the basic elements of criminal liability, mens rea and actus reus: ‘Both terms have, however, justified themselves by their . .
Cited – Alexander MacGrowther’s Case 1746
In the rule that necessity might be a defence to a criminal charge, the distinction was drawn between threats directed against the person and threats upon property. ‘The only force that doth excuse is a force upon the person, and present fear of . .
Cited – Regina v Abdul-Hussain; Regina v Aboud; Regina v Hasan CACD 17-Dec-1998
The law of the defence of duress arising out of threat or circumstances is in need of urgent parliamentary clarification. Appeals were allowed where the defendants hijacked an airplane in order to escape deportation to a hostile country. ‘The . .
Cited – Regina v Gotts HL 3-Jun-1992
The defendant had been convicted of attempted murder, and appealed the rejection of his defence of duress.
Held: The defence of duress is not available to an accused facing a charge of attempted murder as a matter of policy, since it would not . .
Cited – Regina v Hudson and Taylor CACD 17-Mar-1971
Two teenage girls committed perjury by failing to identify the defendant. When prosecuted they pleaded duress, on the basis that they had been warned by a group, including a man with a reputation for violence, that if they identified the defendant . .
Cited – Regina v Ruzic 2001
(Canada) ‘Verification of a spurious claim of duress may prove difficult. Hence, courts should be alive to the need to apply reasonable, but strict standards for the application of the defence.’ . .
Cited – Regina v Conway 1989
The defendant said that he had driven recklessly because he was in fear for his life and that of his passenger.
Held: The court was bound by Willer to rule that a defence of duress was available. It was convenient to refer to this type of . .
Cited – Regina v Howe etc HL 19-Feb-1986
The defendants appealed against their convictions for murder, saying that their defences of duress had been wrongly disallowed.
Held: Duress is not a defence available on a charge of murder. When a defence of duress is raised, the test is . .
Cited – Perka v The Queen 1984
(Canada) The court analysed the defence of necessity. The concept of necessity is used as an excuse for conduct which would otherwise be criminal. The defence arose where, realistically, the individual had no choice, where the action was . .
Cited – Regina v Graham (Paul) CACD 18-Dec-1981
The defence of duress requires establishment of a reasonable belief. In judging the accused’s response the test is: ‘have the prosecution made the jury sure that a sober person of reasonable firmness, sharing the characteristics of the defendant, . .
Cited – Regina v Fitzpatrick CANI 1977
The court considered the defence of duress: ‘A person may become associated with a sinister group of men with criminal objectives and coercive methods of ensuring that their lawless enterprises are carried out and thereby voluntarily expose himself . .
Cited – Regina v Sharpe 1987
A member of a gang of robbers sought to establish a defence of duress. The trial judge had directed the jury ‘but in my judgment the defence of duress is not available to an accused who voluntarily exposes and submits himself to illegal compulsion . . .
Cited – Regina v Shepherd CACD 2-Jan-1987
The court considered the direction to be given on a defence of duress: ‘ . . .. where a person has voluntarily, and with knowledge of its nature, joined a criminal organisation or gang which he knew might bring pressure on him to commit an offence . .
Cited – Regina v Ali CACD 14-Nov-1994
The appellant said he become involved in drug dealing and become indebted to his supplier, X, who had given him a gun and told him to obtain the money from a bank or building society the following day, failing which he would be killed. The appellant . .
Overruled – Regina v Baker and Ward CACD 31-Mar-1999
The appellants claimed that they had been specifically instructed to rob the particular store which they were convicted of robbing, and did so under duress. The trial judge had directed the jury: ‘A person cannot rely on the defence of duress if he . .
Cited – Regina v Heath CACD 7-Oct-1999
The appellant claimed that he had become indebted to a drug supplier, and that he had been compelled by threats of physical violence to collect the consignment of drugs which gave rise to his conviction. His defence of duress failed at trial.
Cited – Regina v Harmer CACD 12-Dec-2001
The defendant claimed duress saying that he had become indebted to his drugs supplier and had been forced to commit the crimes. He said he did not foresee that he might be required to commit crimes for the supplier.
Held: The court did not . .
Cited – Regina v Safi (Ali Ahmed); Regina v Ghayur; Regina v Shah; Regina v Showaib; Regina v Mohammidy; Regina v Shohab; Regina v Ahmadi; Regina v Safi (Mahammad Nasir); Regina v Kazin CACD 6-Jun-2003
The defendants appealed convictions after rejection of their defence of duress. They had hijacked an aeroplane in Afghanistan, and surrendered eventually at Stansted. They said they were acting under duress, believing they had no other way of . .
Affirmed – Regina v Sat-Bhambra CACD 1989
The defendant was accused of importing heroin. He challenged use of his recorded interviews saying he was suffering hypoglycaemia from his diabetes at the time. The judge excluded later interviews for this reason, but the defendant challenged the . .
Cited – Regina v Fulling CACD 1987
It was alleged that evidence had been obtained by police oppression. She had at first refused to answer questions, but an officer talked to her during a break between interviews, telling her that her lover had been having an affair. The . .
Cited – Hui Chi-ming v The Queen PC 5-Aug-1991
(Hong Kong) The defendant was charged with aiding and abetting a murder. A, carrying a length of water pipe and accompanied by the defendant and four other youths, seized a man and A hit him with the pipe, causing injuries from which he died. No . .
Cited – Customs and Excise Commissioners v Harz and Power; Regina v Harz and Power HL 1967
The rule that a confessional statement is not admissible if it was induced by a fear of prejudice or a hope of advantage exercised or held out by a person in authority applies equally where the inducement does not relate to the actual or . .
Cited – Quayle and others v Regina, Attorney General’s Reference (No. 2 of 2004) CACD 27-May-2005
Each defendant appealed against convictions associated variously with the cultivation or possession of cannabis resin. They sought to plead medical necessity. There had been medical recommendations to move cannabis to the list of drugs which might . .
Applied – Coats, Regina v CACD 24-Jul-2013
The defendant had been convicted of importing drugs. She denied knowledge of the offence and denied any coercion. Another person awaiting her at the airport was later convicted of an unassociated murder. She now appealed sayng that she had been . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Crime, Human Rights
Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.223640