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Conduct or words causing someone to lose his self-control. Provocation is not recognized as a general defence to a criminal charge in English law, though what otherwise would have been murder may be reduced to manslaughter if provocation is shown (it is not, however, a defence to a charge of attempted murder: Homicide Act 1957 s 3).

The test for provocation is whether the acts or words involved did in fact make the defendant lose his self-control, and if so, whether they would also have made a reasonable man in the defendant's position do the same (R v Duffy [1949] 1 A11 ER 932). This is a question of fact for the jury to decide in each case. A reasonable man for these purposes must be a person of the same sex and age as the defendant and sharing any characteristics of the defendant that might affect the seriousness of the provocation. The defendant's characteristics may not be taken into account in determining whether the defendant exercised sufficient levels of self-control (A-G for Jersey v Holley [2005] 2 AC 580). See also Battered Woman Syndrome.

Subjects: Law.

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