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Archive for the ‘The family home’ Category

Kate FitzGibbonKate Fitz-Gibbon

In October 2010 the British government abolished the controversial partial defence of provocation and simultaneously introduced a new partial defence of loss of control. Provocation had long caused controversy in the English courts because of its perceived inability to accommodate the experiences of women who killed a long-term abusive male partner while all too readily accommodating the unmeritorious contexts within which jealous and controlling men killed female partners who were leaving them or had allegedly committed infidelity.

The new partial defence of loss of control was introduced as part of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and retains many of the features of the former provocation defence, including the requirement for there to have been a loss of control. However, notably in an attempt to distance the English law of homicide from the injustices associated with provocation, the new loss of control defence includes a provision to exclude the defence from reducing murder to manslaughter in cases where a person’s loss of control resulted from a situation of sexual infidelity. At the time of implementation, the Ministry of Justice commented that:

‘The Government does not accept that sexual infidelity should ever provide the basis for a partial defence to murder’.

The new partial defence has now been in operation in England and Wales for nearly four years, begging the question: to what extent has the new offence allowed the English law of homicide to distance itself from the problems previously associated with the heavily discredited provocation defence?

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Nikki Godden

Nikki is a doctoral student at Durham Law School, Durham University. She is co-creator and editor of Inherently Human.

Elizabeth M Schneider & Stephanie M Wildman (2011) Women and the Law Stories (Foundation Press)

Women and the Law Stories is a wonderful collection which tells the litigants’ tales that are a part of, but are typically excluded from, the legal history of landmark US cases which focus on women’s rights.  Chapters explore and evaluate feminist critiques of the relevant case, area of law and legal concepts in light of and in relation to these stories. The editors introduce the collection explaining that the telling and hearing of women’s stories (and, more generally, those of the powerless, disadvantaged or oppressed groups in society) has been a cornerstone of feminist method, practice and theory.[1] Or as put by Ann C Dailey, ‘the use of storytelling reflects a belief that personal and situated narrative is central to a proper understanding of justice’.[2] However, storytelling is not just a means to an end; it has an important normative dimension which reflects the idea that all voices, all storytellers, are equal and yet diverse and unique in many ways.[3] Embracing and following this storytelling tradition, the book reveals the ‘less well known’ personal narratives which ‘deserve wider recognition’.[4] In so doing, it challenges the dominant stories of these cases, and the ‘conventions of legal scholarship and institutional histories’.[5] To this end, the last chapter is a ‘hidden’ story, an ‘everyday’ case, which highlights ‘women’s experiences of anonymity and invisibility in the legal system’ and legal literature and mainstream scholarship.[6] While the stories are therefore valuable in themselves, the chapters also reflect on and interrogate feminist debates, approaches and concepts –  such as ‘gender stereotyping’ (Chamallas), equality  (Bartlett) equal versus special treatment (Wildman), access to healthcare and abortion (Copelon and Law) – exploring the implications for today and potential ways in which to move forwards in feminist legal theory and law reform. (more…)

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Thierry Godard

If you watched the Golden Globes last week you probably saw two things: Ricky Gervais subtly mocking Hollywood A-listers, and The Kids Are Alright racking up awards in almost every nominated category. I like to think that The Kids Are All Right didn’t really win for the stellar performances of its stars Annette Benning, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo (because they weren’t all that spectacular or funny) but rather for the refreshing and modern portrayal of American family life.  (more…)

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Andrew Hayward

(Durham Law School, Durham University)

The Supreme Court recently handed down a landmark decision in Radmacher v Granatino [2010] UKSC 42. The eagerly awaited ruling grappled with one of the hottest current debates in family law namely the enforceability of prenuptial agreements in England and Wales. From the late 1990s, the issue of prenuptial agreements has been perplexing the lower courts in this jurisdiction and their indeterminate status generated numerous calls for reform. Thankfully this has now been answered with the Law Commission investigating the various forms of marital property agreements. Yet whilst we await the Law Commission’s Consultation Paper, the Supreme Court on Wednesday 20th October 2010 provided a significant ruling which arguably represented the most important family law case decided by the Supreme Court and the most significant judgment dealing with ancillary relief matters since Miller v Miller, McFarlane v McFarlane [2006] UKHL 24. (more…)

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