Self-Defence and Family Violence: Where Do We Draw the Line?
40 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2018 Last revised: 13 Jul 2018
Date Written: April 4, 2018
Family violence is one of New Zealand’s most pressing social issues. The Law Commission recently addressed whether the law adequately protects victims of family violence who attack their abuser in self-defence. It was recommended that in situations of family violence, self- defence should still be available where the threat is not imminent. In doing so, the Law Commission recommended that the definitions of key terms such as “family violence” and “family relationship” be consistent with the definitions found in the Domestic Violence Act (and Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill). This research essay analyses the effect of adopting these definitions and whether they adequately protect victims of family violence who attack their abuser in self-defence. It is argued that the definitions recommended are imprecise and inappropriate for the purpose of self-defence. Instead, a draft provision of the defence is put forward, including detailed definitions of “family relationship” and “family violence”.
Keywords: Family violence, domestic violence, self-defence, definition
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation