Law Evaulation Essay Breakdown - Non Fatal Offences



  • 1993 Law Commission report: describe non-fatal offence as 'an inefficient vehicle for controlling violence' and may aspects of the law are 'obscure and its application erratic'
  • example of how inefficient laws cost money and take up court time
  • Lord Justice Henry: "law on OAP is in need of urgent reform to simplify and rationalise it"
  • Non-fatal offence sentencing guideline found in S39 inludes assault, battery, ABH and GBH
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  • never written as a coherent law, never intended to last for long period of time even though it has been used for centuries 
  • OAPA 1861: passed to codify law and consolidate existing law
  • causes many problems in society
  • OAPA: passed to solve existingproblems that have already occurred
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  • Problem: lack of definitions
  • key words/phrases in S47,20 & 18 arent defined thoroughly, so need case interpretation leading to inconsistent decisions
  • legal professional jobs = more difficult as have to sift through several cases instead of referring to statute 
  • if one piece of legislation was made = save money and time
  • inconsistent decision making in trials as inappropriate terminology used e.g. 'actual' and 'grievous' (takes trials longer due to discussion about these terms)
  • wounding isnt set out in statute but explained in case law (Eisenhower) - not normal understanding of wound and causes problems for S20 could be a pin *****
  • Suggested Reform: Charging Standards suggest small, mnor injuries should be uder S47
  • No statutory explanation for 'assault' and 'battery'
  • in law common assault is undersood for both offences
  • confusion due to drafting (S39 referring to common assault and battery) (S47 referring to common only using assault instead of battery as well)
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  • Problem: hierarchy of seriouesness
  • no logical strucure reflecting seriousness of offence = 'ladder principle'
  • overlap of S39 and S47  as the threshold of harm, very low inlcudes all harm apart from wounds. Is that considered trasnient and trifiling?
  • big differences in sentencing: S39 = 6 months     S47 = 5 years
  • unjust due S20 and S47 attracting 5 years as S20 is far more serious as it involves woudning
  • big jump fro S20 to S18: lfie imprisonment for S18 but only motive difference as S18 = intention wher as S20 is intention or recklessness as to cause harm 
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  • Problem: victorian legislator so didnt take into account psychiatric harm (Chan Fook)
  • outdated: in need of modernisation (Law Commission)
  • need to reflect modern society rather than victorian values
  • noemails/telephone in time when law was drafted. Caused problems with cases such as Ireland 
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  • proposals for intention and recklessness for S47 with maximum of 5 years no longer to prove assault or battery and injury to be defne as physical injury for other cases such as Chan Fook and Ireland
  • reaosnable jump between S20 and S18. Separate offence for intention and recklesness
  • no reference to wounding in S18 and S20. Pin pricks problem = removed
  • definition for assault and battery. Ambiguity removed and make sentencing a lot quicker for those offences as there will be a statute to refer to 
  • Criminal Law Revision Committee: published reports for proposals to the law
  • Law Commissions 1993and draft bill but never put before Parliament
  • "It is clear that these reforms suggested above will make the law more just and would save court time and money as the cases will have more fairer outcomes so there owuld be no need for appeals on most cases."
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