Homicide

Commissioner

Lady Paton, Chair

Team members

Graham McGlashan, Project Manager
Nicholas Burgess, Legal Assistant

Homicide law project

Our project to examine the law of homicide was announced in as Item No 4 in our Tenth Programme of Law Reform (February 2018).  We envisage that the project will be a medium-term one expected to take 5 years to complete.  We intend to examine the law of homicide to consider whether and, if so, how any necessary proposals for modernising the law in this important and sensitive area should be made.

Our Discussion Paper on the Mental Element in Homicide Discussion Paper on the Mental Element in Homicide seeking views on possible reform of the law in this area was published on 27 May 2021. The consultation period will last until  27 August 2021.

In addition to our Discussion Paper we have also published an Executive Summary, News Release, a comparative paper entitled Homicide Laws in Other Jurisdictions, a paper on culpable homicide authored by Professor Claire McDiarmid, Head of the School of Law at the University of Strathclyde and finally a paper looking at statistics for homicide appeals in Scotland between 2010 and 2019.

The Discussion Paper considers and asks for views on a wide range of issues including:

  • The current bipartite nature of Scots homicide law, which comprises the offences of murder and culpable homicide; 
  • The language of Scots homicide law and whether the offences of murder and culpable homicide might benefit from statutory redefinition; 
  • The applicability of and options for reform in relation to defences to a charge of homicide, including self-defence, necessity, coercion, provocation and diminished responsibility; 
  • Whether a new partial defence should be created for people who kill following prolonged domestic abuse.

We invite comments from everyone with an interest in this area of the law. Responses to the Discussion Paper can be made until 27 August 2021.   

Consultee letter and response form.

Following the consultation, the Commission will assess consultees’ views and commence work towards publication of a Report.

Seminar on the Structure of Homicide and the Mental Element

On 5 October 2018 we held a seminar on the law of homicide at the University of Strathclyde in conjunction with Strathclyde and Glasgow University Law Schools.  Here is a link to our news release about the day.  Videos of the talks from the day can be viewed here.

Here are links to the Programme and slides which presenters spoke to on the day.

Introductory Remarks and Overview of Project:
Lord Pentland, Chair of the Scottish Law Commission and Project lead

Homicide in Scotland: Context and Prevalence
Dr Sara Skott, Mid-Sweden University

Structuring Homicide: A Broad Perspective
Professor Lindsay Farmer, University of Glasgow

Mens Rea of Murder: Wicked Intention to Kill and Wicked Recklessness
Professor James Chalmers, University of Glasgow 

Mens Rea of Culpable Homicide
Dr Claire McDiarmid, University of Strathclyde

Mens Rea of Art and Part Murder
Professor Fiona Leverick, University of Glasgow 

Issues in Reforming Homicide Law: the English Experience
Professor Jeremy Horder, LSE; former Law Commissioner

Contact

For further information or if there are matters you wish to raise with us, please email:  info@scotlawcom.gov.uk or contact Graham McGlashan (graham.mcglashan@scotlawcom.gov.uk).