Law reform - non fatal offences against person

The law relating to non-fatal offences against the person is to be found in the Offences against the Person Act 1861.

Grade: A-C | £3.99.

This essay looks at whether or not the law should be reformed in this area and if so why.

The essay starts by defining the various offences that arise under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, namely, assault (common assault), assault occasioning actual bodily harm, malicious wounding or grievous bodily harm under Section 20 OAP 1861 and malicious wounding or grievous bodily harm under Section 18 OAP 1861.

The essay covers many of the practical difficulties that arise and the courts approach to interpretation.

The following cases are mentioned:

  • Constanza 1997 (assault can arise by words alone)
  • Ireland 1998 (silent phone calls)
  • Smith v Chief Superintendent of Woking Police Station (1983) (defendant standing outside window)
  • DPP v Taylor and DPP v Little 1992  (assault and battery to be treated as statutory offences)
  • Miller 1954 and Chan-Fook 1994 ('any hurt or injury calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim') and meaning of the words 'actual' and 'harm'
  • Roberts 1971 and Savage and Parmeter 1992 (mens rea required for assault occasioning actual bodily harm)
  • JJC(a minor) v Eisenhower 1984 ('break in the continuity of the whole skin')
  • DPP v Smith 1961; Saunders 1985 ('grievous bodily harm' means 'serious harm')

The work closes with a reference to the problems of language and passing of time; the work of the Law Commission.



(Word Count 1213)

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