Marital coercion

Oh my God. Vicky Price\’s defence gets even better:

The defence is contained in section 47 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925:[1]
“ Any presumption of law that an offence committed by a wife in the presence of her husband is committed under the coercion of the husband is hereby abolished, but on a charge against a wife for any offence other than treason or murder it shall be a good defence to prove that the offence was committed in the presence of, and under the coercion of, the husband. ”

This section reversed the legal burden of proof in such cases.

Section 37 of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945 (c.15) (N.I.) is identical to the section cited above and applies to Northern Ireland.

Paragraph 4 of Schedule 3 to the Crimes Act 1900 makes provision for New South Wales.
Differences to duress

While marital coercion is broadly similar to duress, it has the following differences:

It must be proved that the defendant is the legal wife of the man who coerced her. A mistaken though reasonable belief that she was married will not suffice.[2] Civil partnership does not suffice.[citation needed]
The burden of proof is on the defence to prove marital coercion on the balance of probabilities, whereas the burden is on the prosecution to disprove duress beyond reasonable doubt.

Huhne has to show that he did not coerce her.

Huhne\’s toast, i\’nne?

18 thoughts on “Marital coercion”

  1. “Huhne’s toast, i’nne?”

    In the sense of being the contents of the crumb tray of a filth spattered toaster found amidst the rat droppings at the back of a cupboard of a condemned property during demolition………..hopefully.
    And yet……………..he’ll walk.
    The system looks after its own.

  2. I think that the good people of Eastleigh can safely plan for an by-election in the Autumn.

  3. I think you’ve misread that Tim.

    it shall be a good defence to prove that the offence was committed in the presence of, and under the coercion of, the husband

    This applies to Pryce not Huhne: she will be seeking to prove that he coerced her.

    Huhne hasn’t entered a plea, but reportedly he intends to apply to have the case dismissed, presumably on the grounds that there’s insufficient evidence that she’s not making the whole thing up.

  4. Agree with Paul B. The defence applies to Pryce not Huhne. In any event, he will presumably be saying that she was was driving the car and therefore took the points legitimately, or, if not, that they were mistaken about it, rather than seeking to prove that he didn’t coerce her.

    A statement made by one defendant (Pryce) is not admissible evidence against a co-defendant (Huhne) and the police must therefore have some evidence, above and beyond Pryce’s allegation, that Huhne was driving he car. If they don’t have any such evidence, or if it’s tenuous in nature, may be the reason Huhne is applying to have the case dismissed due to lack of evidence.

  5. Agree with the above. The burden of proof for the defence is on the defendant. Pryce has to prove she was coerced for the defence to stand. Previously it would have been assumed that Pryce was coerced unless the prosecution could present evidence that she had not been. Sexism’s a funny old thing, innit. Particularly as it doesn’t look like the defence of marital coercion is available to men.

    And in both cases it’s the Crown versus Huhne or Pryce, not one against the other. Perverting the court of justice is a criminal charge.

  6. That should read “course of justice”. The courts of justice are perverted enough as it is.

  7. Sexism’s a funny old thing, innit. Particularly as it doesn’t look like the defence of marital coercion is available to men.

    Men didn’t take a marriage oath “to obey”.

  8. Neither did Mrs S-E.

    But you’ll have noted that it was “men didn’t” rather than “men don’t”, yes?

    Regardless, you don’t really expect the law to be up to date?

  9. According to the reports she was giving a lecture in front of a large audience at the time of the motoring offence. Huhne is toast.

  10. I admit that I have not followed this case but are there records of the relevant car in any of the Stansted car-parks? if the car was there while Mrs H was lecturing in Lo0ndon, then it’s open-and-shut, isn’t it?

  11. If there are a lot of witnesses that Mrs Huhne was somewhere else at the time then they are both toast.
    It’s an inventive defence. Will it work before a jury?

  12. the great redacto

    She was giving a lecture at the LSE and would have needed to drive to Stansted very quickly to have been able to pick him up from his flight from Brussels. The drive is possible – I think some hapless hack from the Mail was dispatched to do it – but it would be tight. Pass the black cap.

  13. can wives really be coerced these days?
    Not under law but just face to face. Times must be changing.

  14. Peter MacFarlane


    He has to prove a negative?

    Is this really the law of England?

    Mr. Bumble, thou shouldst be living at this hour.

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