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Duress Notes

GDL Law Notes > GDL Criminal Law Notes

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A more recent version of these Duress notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our GDL Criminal Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Revision: Criminal

Duress by Threat


If established it excuses what would otherwise be criminal conduct: complete defence


Only estblished where there is a nexus between the threat and the crime


R v Cole: the offence charged must be stipulated by the person making the threat: in this case it was not so there was no duress


Possibility of duress of circumstances exists but the D would have to get around the problem of immediacy


Defence was first defined in CA R v Graham - most recent review by HL in R v Hasan

Elements: laid out in Hasan

1. There must be a threat to cause death or serious injury o

The threat must be of death or serious personal injury: threats vs. property are insufficient (M'Growther); DPP for NI v Lynch

2. The threat must be directed against the D, his immediate family or (someone close?) o

In Hasan Bingham said the threat must be 'if not the the D or a member of his immediate family, to a person for whose safety the D would reasonably regard himself as responsible


R v Shayler: D could regard himself as responsible for those he has never met before (e.g. to the potential victims of a bomb)

3. The test is largely objective a) Reasonable belief/good cause to fearR v Graham: D's belief that he has been threatened must be reasonably heldR v Martin: CA suggested more subjective view (whether the D genuinely believed) but this doesn't stand in light of Hasan (Bingham's comment - must be reasonable and genuinely held)If D makes a mistake, it must be a reasonable mistake

b) Would a reasonable person have responded in the same way?Sober person of reasonable person, sharing the same characteristics as the D (Age, sex etc.) 1

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