A controversial Victorian law that can be used to give killers lighter sentences is set to be scrapped.

The defensive homicide law can be applied if a person argues they killed in self-defence.

A Department of Justice review recommends the abolition of the law in favour of amendments to self-defence.

Attorney-General Robert Clark says the law has failed.

"This was a law that was supposed to help particularly women in situations family violence who might have been acting under extreme pressure," he said.

"Experience shows it's been used predominantly by males who have used it as a defence against a murder charge, including where there appears to have been horrific injuries inflicted on someone who was in no position to threaten the offender."