law pages of Bournemouth and Poole College.
R v Safi and others (CA) 6 June 2003
[Duress - D need only show he reasonably believed there was a threat]
DD hijacked an aeroplane, imprisoned crew and passengers, possessed a firearm with intent, and possessed explosives. They were escaping from a brutal regime in Afghanistan.
Held: LONGMORE LJ,
The first element requires that DD reasonably believed a threat existed.
R v Graham  continued to be the law.
There was no need for there to be a threat it is sufficient that DD reasonably believed there was a threat. This is similar to the requirements of provocation and self-defence, where a defendant was entitled to rely on facts as he believed them to be.
So, if a defendant committed a crime because a gun was pointed at him, the defence would succeed if the gun was not loaded and therefore there was no threat in fact.
The courts have repeatedly emphasised the urgent need for legislation to define duress, and it would be possible, for example, to make hijacking an absolute offence; but Parliament appeared content to leave the development of the applicable law to judicial decision.
*The Prime Minister transferred the administrative functions of Lord Chancellor to a new Department of Constitutional Affairs. The new Lord Chancellor is Lord Falconer who is also the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs. (Lord Falconer is an old university friend of Tony Blair).
*The Lord Chancellor no longer sits as a judge nor Speaker of the House of Lords.
*An independent Appointments Commission will appoint judges, but details are uncertain.
*There is to be consultation on whether there should be a new Supreme Court to replace the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords.
*The reasons for the changes appear to be to separate the judiciary the legislature and the executive.
*The consultation and any amending legislation will probably take three years.
*For the period of transition, Lord Falconer will exercise all the functions of Lord Chancellor as necessary. However, Lord Falconer does not intend to sit as a judge in the House of Lords before the new Supreme Court is established.
Justice – case for a Supreme Court (PDF file)
Lord Bingham’s speech (PDF file)
Bar Council reaction
Political reaction Continue reading New Department of Constitutional Affairs: Lord Chancellor…