Law-makers have been thinking about abolishing the marital coercion defence since the early 1920s, so suggestions that it will be abolished in some imminent legislation cannot be said to be a knee-jerk reaction to the Vicky Pryce case.
However, it might be worth pausing for a moment of reflection before striking it off the books. Bad cases make hard law, or is it hard cases make bad law? Whichever it is, I have been thinking about the repercussions of Pryce and her unsuccessful claim. Given she was such a self-assured, high-powered person, a friend of the great and the good, it never had real "legs" as they say.
But had she been Mrs Patel with no great command of the English language, or from a culture where women stand to attention when their men enter the room, might it have done? And not just the Mrs Patels of this world. Recently the Daily Telegraph (12 April) ran an article by a young, articulate woman who was coerced into driving because her husband, who had driving bans already, did not want to take the wheel when he was over the limit.
Thinking back, I suspect that an acquaintance of mine would have tried to pressurise his first wife in such a situation and I believe she would have gone along with it. Sadly, many women will take a good deal of physical let alone mental punishment before they can bring themselves to take action. They are the ones who need the protection of the law in all its forms.
If the defence were not abolished, would that bring forward a stampede of women claiming they were coerced? Probably not. It would be pointed out that if the defence fails, then, as with Pryce, mitigation goes out of the window and into prison you go.
Of course, there are anomalies to be overcome in this day and age. With marriage on the way out, is it right that partners, even long-standing ones, cannot avail themselves of the defence? Goodness knows what would happen in the case of gay marriages.
And, as I wrote a month ago, what about browbeaten men? Perhaps they do not exist any more, except in seaside postcards. But these are not sufficient reasons to throw the baby out with the bath water.
James Morton is a writer and former criminal defence solicitor