Necessity: Duress of Circumstances or Moral Involuntariness?

Glenys Neale Williams

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While the Canadian Supreme Court has accepted necessity as an excuse on the basis of moral involuntariness, English and Welsh courts have adopted a different route by incorporating excusatory necessity into duress of circumstances. The objective element of this defence prevents the defendant's characteristics from being taken into account, and assumes a level of courage. In a defence where the fear emotion is the prevalent feature, this paper questions whether judges in England and Wales have taken the wrong path by implementing a necessity defence as a form of duress
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalCommon Law World Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • necessity
  • excuse
  • justification
  • character
  • choice theory
  • capacity theory
  • fear emotion
  • courage


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