OAPA 1861



An act which causes the victim to apprehend the infliction of immediate, unlawful force with either an intention to cause another to fear immediate unlawful personal violence or recklessness as to whether such fear is caused.

Actus Reus

‘any act which causes the victim to apprehend the infliction of immediate, unlawful force’

Mens Rea

‘intention to cause another to fear immediate unlawful personal violence or recklessness as to whether such fear is caused’

R v Constanza ( 1997)

D written 800 letters and made number of phone calls to V. The V interpreted last two letters as clear threats. C of A held that letters could be an assault

Ireland (1997)

slient phone calls constitute as assault

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The Threat itself

Threat must be immediate or Defendant must feel that

  • R v Ireland (1997)
  • Smith v Chief Superintendent of Woking Police (1983)

The threat must be in the immediate future, a treat to harm later that week is not immediate enough to be an assault

Believe the Threat is Real

Victim must feel the threat is real or the is no assault. 

  • Logdon

If V thought the gun was real = assault

If V didn't think gun was real = no assault

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The application of unlawful force to another person intending either to apply unlawful physical force to another or recklessness as to whether unlawful force is applied 

Actus reus is: The unlawful application of force to another mens rea:The D must have

intended or been reckless as to applying unlawful force to another

The word ‘force’ can include the slightest  touch - Collins v Wilcock

Battery can also be indirect = the force applied to even though D does not personally touch the V  -DPP v K (1990)

KEY CASE: Thomas (1985) 

D’ touched the bottom of a women’s skirt and rubbed it.  C of A said ‘ there’s no dispute that if you touch a person’s clothes while he is wearing them that is equivalent to touching him’  

Collins v Wilcock [1984]A police woman took hold of a woman's arm to stop her walking off when she was questioning her. The woman scratched the police woman and was charged with assaulting a police officer in the course of her duty.Held: The police woman's actions amounted to a battery. The defendant's action was therefore in self defence and her conviction was quashed.Goff LJ stated that implied consent existed where there was jostling in crowded places, handshakes, back slapping, tapping to gain attention provided no more force was used than is reasonably necessary in the circumstances. There was no consent given for the grabbing of the arm.

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Section 47 Actual Bodily Harm

s.47…”whosoever shall be convicted of any assault occasioning actual bodily harm shall be liable….to imprisonment for five year” Triable either way offence.  No definition of ‘assault’ or ‘actual bodily harm’ nor any reference to the level of mens rea required

D commits an assault or battery + the V gets an injury from it = S47 ABH

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Section 47 offence Offences Against the Person Act

Definition - ABH is an assault (or battery) which causes victim actual bodily harm and D intends or is subjectively reckless as to whether the victim fears unlawful force or is actually subjected to unlawful force. Mens rea -  intention or recklessness as to the assault or battery

The injury must interfere with the health and comfort of the V, that is more than transient or trifling

Actus Reus - The D commits an assault or battery that causes actual bodily harm

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Cases of S47

Miller (1954) - D had non-consensual sexual intercourse with his wife and then threw her to the ground. Held: D guilty of ABH "Actual bodily harm includes any hurt or injury calculated to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim" 

Chan Fook (1994) - D subjected V to questioning about the theft of a ring belonging to D's fiancée. D then dragged V upstairs to a room and locked him in. V feared D's return and injured himself when he fell to the ground escaping through a window.

DPP v Smith (Michael) (2006) - D caused actual bodily harm to V by cutting off her pony tail. D went to the home of his ex-partner and cut of her pony tail with kitchen scissors.

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