Non-Fatal Offences Reform

Issues With The Law

Inconsitency Between Offences

  • S47 has the same mens rea for assault or battery
  • A small cut would have to be charged with S20 because this is the lowest offence which talks about wounding
  • Somebody who resists arresst would be charged with S18


  • Assault and Battery = 6 months and S47 = 5 years. Despite having same level of mens rea
  • S47 = 5 years and S20 = 5 years despite harm being much higher in S20
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More Issues With The Law

Modern Understanding of Bodily Harm

  • When the act was passed there was no understanding of psychiatric harm
  • Judges have had to decide if transmisson of disease can count

Old Fashioned Language

  • Words such as malciously had to be interpreted by judges
  • Cunnigham said malciously meant recklessly

Other Issues

  • Law Commission- "obscure and erratic"


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Potential Reforms


  • S47 would become "intentionally or recklessly causing injury" max 5 years
  • S20 would become "recklessly causing serious injury" max 7 years
  • S18 would become intentionally causing serious injury max life
  • Why have 2 mens rea for serious harm but just one for some harm?
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