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Palmer v R

[1971] AC 814

Case summary last updated at 11/01/2020 18:18 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Palmer v R

Ds had killed someone and were arguing to the Privy Council that, where D intended self-defence but used excessive force and killed V, the jury should be directed towards manslaughter and not murder. Privy Council rejected this appeal. Lord Morris said that the defence of self-defence is a relatively simple one based not only on law but on common sense. Thus either it applied or it did not- it was not open as a partial defence where the necessary criteria had not been fulfilled by D. Lord Morris also referred to cases of “unexpected anguish”. He said “If a jury thought that in a moment of unexpected anguish a person attacked had only done what he honestly and instinctively thought was necessary, that would be most potent evidence that only reasonable defensive action had been taken”. This is a qualification to the objective self-defence test of “reasonableness”. 

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