Agreement and Disagreement in Murder and Manslaughter Verdicts

Taylor, Richard D orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-9003-0366 and Ormerod, David (2022) Agreement and Disagreement in Murder and Manslaughter Verdicts. Criminal Law Review, 2022 (3). pp. 185-209. ISSN 0011-135X

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Juries are routinely asked whether they have reached a verdict upon which they are all agreed. What does or should this mean in trials where a verdict of manslaughter is available and there is more than one type of manslaughter in issue? Does it matter if members of the jury do not agree as to the type of manslaughter committed but all think it is manslaughter, albeit for different reasons, in order to return a verdict of guilty of manslaughter? Can the jury properly return a verdict of not guilty of murder, which is normally a pre-requisite for an alternative verdict of manslaughter, if they are not agreed on the form of manslaughter which constitutes the partial defence to murder? Are the answers to these questions important in order to inform sentencing, or for the legitimacy of the verdicts or for the construction of routes to verdicts? This article investigates these questions and suggests some answers, concluding that whilst sentencing issues are not the driver, legitimacy and justice require that in some cases at least, agreement on at least one particular route to manslaughter should be required.

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