A2 Law: General Defences

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In this document, I will put down my "summary" notes on the general defenses.

Law 03- General Defences.


  • A person may only consent to minor harms. 

R v Brown and R v Wilson (Branding Wife's bottom at her requests with hot knife).

  • A person cannot consent to Euthanasia ( Remains a Crime in United Kingdom).

Pretty v UK: (D. Appealed to let her husband assist her in suicide as she was physically unable to do so. her request was rejected.) 

1) Consent must be valid. (The person must understand the nature and quality of the act they're consenting to. A mentally ill person may not consent.) 

Burrell v Harmer: (D. charged with ABH after tattooing 12 year old children.) In this case it was held that the consent was not valid as the children did not understand the nature and quality of the at they're consenting to Nor the Pain!) 

The case of Gilick v West Norfolk, (Mrs Gilick against contraception to children) introduced that "a parent may consent on behalf of their child, until they have sufficient understanding to provide a valid consent). This is known as the Gilick Competence.  

2) Consent must be informed. (The person must know what they're consenting to.)

R v Dica: (Defendant slept with two women without informing he was a HIV patient.) It was held that he is liable as victims did not consent to the risk of H.I.V.

3) Consent by Fraud. (Consent is not valid if the defendant has hidden their identity or the victims were not aware of the nature and quality of the act they're consenting to.)

R v Richardson: (D. was suspended from dental practice yet continued.) It was held that since the patients were aware of her identity and the nature and quality of the act she was performing thus the consent is valid.

R v Tabassum: (D. measured women's breasts while telling them it's for medical examinations). It was held that the victims did not know the nature and quality of the act they're consenting to.


This defence is a private defence used to protect oneself and their property. 

  • Force Must be neccesary! 

The defendant may only use force if they honestly believed that they're at risk. 

1) Pre-emptive strike

In the case of "R v Beckford", it was held that the "victim does not need to wait for the assailant to strike the first blow" 

2) Threats can be used if V. believes he/she's at risk.

R v Cousins: ( Defendant believed his life was at risk thus threatened the father of the person who taken the contract of his life.) It was held that such threats are lawful in reasonable circumstances. 

3) Preparing for an Attack.

Attorney General's Ref 2: (made petrol bombs to protect his shop from second time riots)- It was held that a person make make preparations if/she believes their property is at risk. 

4) Duty to Retreat. (The defendant must show unwillingness to fight.)

R v Birds: (Ex Bf hit her but she retaliated causing a broken glass to cause serious injuries.) It was held that…



Pretty Good- Thanks x

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