Trespass to person

Word document explaining trespass to person.

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Any unwanted interference with the body is a trespass to person; this can be an assault, a battery
and false imprisonment.
Assault is a direct threat by D that makes C reasonably fear physical contact. This threat of physical
contact must be able to be carried out immediately as shown by THOMAS v NUM where it was not
and STEPHENS v MYERS where it was. It is not settled in civil law however the criminal case of R v
MEADE said no words are equivalent to assault but the later case of R v WILSON it was. Also in R v
IRELAND silence is an assault and so the persuasive authority of these cases could be possible.
However words can negate an assault as shown by TURBERVILLE v SAVAGE. Obstruction alone
without words or movement cannot be an assault as shown by INNES v WYLIE. D must intent for C to
fear immediate physical contact as in BLAKE v BERNARD.
Battery is the direct and intentional application of force without C's consent or a lawful justification.
This can include spitting in C's face (R v COTESWORTH), cutting hair (FORD v SKINNER) and throwing
water over clothes (PURSELL v HORN). The case of COLE v TURNER didn't cover touching that is not in
anger, COLLIN v WILCOCK had Lord Goff state the test is whether the contact is acceptable in
ordinary daily life, WILSON v PRINGLE held any hostile touch was enough but in the case of F v WEST
BERKSHIRE HEALTH AUTHORITY Lord Goff said it was beyond the bounds of acceptable everyday
conduct that is a battery. The case of LETANG v COOPER held D must intend to apply force. The
doctrine of transferred malice applies as shown in LIVINGSTONE v MINISTER OF DEFENCE.
False imprisonment is depriving C the freedom of movement without lawful justification. This
restraint must be total (BIRD v JONES), restriction on movement if reasonable are allowed (ROBINSON
v BALMAIN FERRY COMPANY) however HERD v WEARDALE STEEL has been criticised as it was unfair
to C who was not imprisoned as they breached their contract. The area will depend on each case but
generally if the only escape is unreasonable as it would risk personal injury the restraint would be
total. The barriers do not need to be physical (HARNETT v BOND) and knowledge of the restraint at
the time is unnecessary (MEERING v GRAHAM WHITE AVIATION) and D must intend confinement as
shown by SAYERS v HARLOW which was negligence.
Self-defence is possible to use in trespass to person as shown by LANE v HOLLOWAY and this
defence can apply to defence of the person, defence of another and defence of property.
Volenti is a possible defence and can be used in sport where the injury occurs within the rules of the
game (SIMMS v LEIGH RUGBY CLUB) but not if it occurs outside (TYSON v HOLYFIELD and R v
BILLINGHURST). In medical cases it is possible children under 16 can consent to or refuse medical
treatment if they have sufficient maturity and understanding or Gillick competence (GLIIICK v WEST
NORFOLK & WISBECH HEALTH AUTHORITY) but the case of RE: M suggests that when overwhelmed
by the situation the refusal may be ignored, if C does not consent the general rule is no defence
allowed even if D acted to save C's life (MALLETTE v SHULMAN) and the MENTAL HEALTH ACT 1983
cannot be used to override refusal (RE: S).
Necessity is also a defence that can be used in trespass to person as shown in F v WEST BERKSHIRE
where she was sterilised because it was necessary, GILLICK as it was the lesser of two evils giving
contraception instead of abortions and RE: A it was lesser of two evils to allow one to live instead of
both dying.
Reasonable chastisement is a specific defence for trespass to person for parents and teachers. Finally
lawful arrest/detention can be used with a statute as a specific defence with the CRIMINAL LAW ACT
1967 S3 and PACE 1984.


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