Regina v Smith (Morgan James): HL 27 Jul 2000

The defendant had sought to rely upon the defence of provocation. He had suffered serious clinical depression.
Held: When directing a jury on the law of provocation, it was no longer appropriate to direct the jury to disregard any particular characteristics of the defendant when asking whether the provocation was such as to make a reasonable person lose his self-control. The Homicide Act 1953 had changed the common law position. Once there was evidence of a subjective loss of self-control which had been provoked, then the question of whether the loss of control was objectively reasonable was one for the jury.
Lord Hoffman described the history of the defence of provocation, saying that it: ‘comes from a world of Restoration gallantry in which gentlemen habitually carried lethal weapons, acted in accordance with a code of honour which required insult to be personally avenged by instant angry retaliation . . (t)o show anger ‘in hot blood’ for a proper reason . . was not merely permissible but the badge of a man of honour.’

Lord Slynn of Hadley Lord Hoffmann Lord Clyde Lord Millett Lord Hobhouse of Wood-borough
Times 04-Aug-2000, Gazette 28-Sep-2000, [2000] UKHL 49, [2001] 1 AC 146, [2001] 1 Cr App R 31, [2000] 4 All ER 289, [2000] 3 WLR 654
House of Lords, House of Lords, Bailii
Homicide Act 1957 3
England and Wales
CitedRegina (Director of Public Prosecutions) v Camplin HL 1978
The court considered the direction to be given as to the existence of provocation so as to reduce a charge of murder to one of manslaughter. The reasonable man in the definition should be one with the defendant’s mental condition. ‘The judge should . .
CitedRegina v Morhall HL 21-Jul-1995
The defendant was a glue sniffer. He had been taunted, and eventually attacked one of those villifying him. The judge excluded from the jury that the characteristics he suffered as a glue sniffer which might affect his response to provocation.
CitedRegina v Stingel 1990
(High Court of Australia) An infatuated man had stabbed his former girlfriend’s lover.
Held: The judge had been right to withdraw the issue of provocation from the jury. Jealousy and possessiveness should not found a defence of provocation. . .
CitedRegina v Welsh 1869
The judge directed the jury as to provocation saying that in order to reduce the crime to manslaughter, there should have been serious provocation, ‘something which might naturally cause an ordinary and reasonably minded man to lose his self-control . .
CitedBedder v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 1954
B appealed against his conviction for murder. The victim, a prostitute, had taunted the accused, then 18, for his impotence. The accused was in fact impotent.
Held: The jury had properly been directed to consider whether a reasonable man who . .
CitedLuc Thiet Thuan v The Queen PC 2-Apr-1996
(Hong Kong) On a trial for murder the defendant relied on the defences of diminished responsibility and provocation. Medical evidence showed the defendant suffered from brain damage and was prone to respond to minor provocation by losing his . .

Cited by:
CitedMartin v Regina CACD 30-Oct-2001
The defendant had shot a burglar who had entered his isolated home at night. He claimed self defence, but the burglar appeared to have been shot as he retreated. A defendant is entitled to use reasonable force to protect himself, others for whom he . .
CitedRegina v G and R HL 16-Oct-2003
The defendants, young boys, had set fire to paper and thrown the lit papers into a wheelie bin, expecting the fire to go out. In fact substantial damage was caused. The House was asked whether a conviction was proper under the section where the . .
AppliedRegina v Rowland CACD 12-Dec-2003
The appellant had been convicted of murder. He sought to have substituted a conviction for manslaughter following Smith, and in the light of evidence as to his mental characteristics.
Held: ‘in the context of the law of provocation, the . .
CitedRegina v Jenkins and Another CACD 14-Feb-2002
The decision in Smith (Morgan) does not prevent use of the expression ‘the reasonable man’ in the judge’s summing-up, in Weller, when considering how a jury should be directed on provocation, the court plainly regarded the relevant question as being . .
CitedWeller, Regina v CACD 26-Mar-2003
The defendant appealed against his conviction for murder, saying that provocation should have been found. The issue was whether or not, in the course of his summing-up, the trial judge should have left, and if so whether he had left, to the jury the . .
Wrongly DecidedHer Majestys Attorney General for Jersey v Holley PC 15-Jun-2005
(Jersey) The defendant appealed his conviction for murder, claiming a misdirection on the law of provocation. A chronic alcoholic, he had admitted killing his girlfriend with an axe. Nine law lords convened to seek to reconcile conflicting decisions . .
CitedVan Dongen and Another, Regina v CACD 5-Jul-2005
The defendant brothers appealed convictions for murder. They had pleaded self defence. The injuries on the deceased suggested a substantial number of wounds were inflicted when he was in a curled up defensive post.
Held: The provocation . .
CitedJames, Regina v; Regina v Karimi CACD 25-Jan-2006
The defendants appealed their convictions for murder, saying that the court had not properly guided the jury on provocation. The court was faced with apparently conflicting decision of the House of Lords (Smith) and the Privy Council (Holley).
Not preferredMohammed, Regina v CACD 13-Jul-2005
The court granted permission to appeal against a conviction for murder on grounds that related to the judge’s summing up in respect of provocation: ‘Although Holley is a decision of the Privy Council and Morgan Smith a decision of the House of . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 16 December 2021; Ref: scu.159083