Read: Feminist judgment in Drury v HMA – sexual infidelity and culpable homicide

The Scottish Feminist Judgments Project (SFJP) has released a sample book chapter on the case of Drury v HM Advocate [2001] SLT 1013.

The SFJP is a project which brings together legal academics, practising lawyers, and representatives from the third sector, to consider whether important legal cases might have been decided differently if the judgment had adopted a feminist perspective.

In Drury v HMA a man was accused of killing his former female partner in a violent assault with a weapon.

Dr Claire McDiarmid offered her own written judgment for the case as if she were on the bench at the time. Her judgment considers the defence of provocation by sexual infidelity, the historical basis for this, and its place in Scots law today.

Dr McDiarmid, delivering her judgment as ‘Lady McDiarmid’, says: “In my view, allowing the discovery of sexual infidelity to justify the return of a culpable homicide verdict on a murder charge is an expression of outdated norms. Such norms include the idea of ownership of women passing from a father to a husband. 

“They also encompass the notion of sexual ownership generally, and of exclusive rights to sexual access to the body of another. This permits a loss of self-control engendered by a sense of sexual entitlement to provide mitigation of the act of killing.

“I do not believe that these are norms to which twenty-first century Scottish society either adheres, or ought to adhere.” 

Dr McDiarmid’s judgment is followed by commentary from Juliette Casey, advocate.

The release of the book chapter follows the launch of SFJP’s new podcast looking at the same case.

Tags: SFJP

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