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The defences of duress necessity and duress of circumstances all recognise that a person ought not always to be regarded as criminally liable if he or she feels compelled to act against their will Critically evaluate how and why the courts have limited the availability of these defences If you commit a crime simply because you have been threatened with a dreadful consequence if you dont do it you may have a defence The standard defence is duress but this is narrowly construed The courts are reluctant to acknowledge necessity as a defence and so a new hybrid defence of duress of circumstances has evolved in the last 15 years The defence of Necessity is rarely used but was approved in the case of Re A Conjoined Twins 2000 Duress is normally considered to be an excuse whereas necessity is more properly a justification But the courts are not consistent in their use of terminology and there are considerable overlaps between the three defences Duress in any of its forms is a recognition that an accused may be permitted to be asked to be excused liability on the basis of their will being overborne in the face of an external threat as a result of which they felt constrained to commit the alleged offence Duress may be pleaded by a defendant who commits a criminal act as the result of a threat of death or serious bodily harm to himself or his family as decided in the case of Hurley 1967 Any other type of threat is seen as insufficient A sliding scale of threats would perhaps be fairer such that more minor threats might provide defence to more minor offences but this may well create more uncertainty The case of HUDSON v TAYLOR 1971 established that the threat must be of death or serious personal injury two girls of the ages of 17 and 19 were about to enter the
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