Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Law Commission ~ Offences against the Person

The Law Commission has commenced a "scoping consultation" about Offences against the Person - Law Commission 12th November 2014.  and also see Law Commission Offences against the Person.  The consultation remains open until 11th February 2015.  The Commission comments that :

"Offences of violence are some of the most common in our criminal justice system: those covered in our paper are charged anything up to 200,000 times each year.  It is, therefore, essential that the laws in this area are clear, fit for purpose in the 21st century and (ideally) collated together in a single, readily-accessible statute. This is especially so in an era with increasing numbers of litigants in person, even in criminal cases.

 The scope of the consultation is limited to
only some of the offences that could come under the banner of “offences against the person”: broadly speaking, it is concerned with violent offences against the person, which are principally contained in the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, although we do also cover the common law offences of assault and battery and the section 89(1) Police Act 1996 offence of assaulting a constable in some detail.  However, we do not consider sexual offences or kidnapping and false imprisonment, nor do we discuss those offences that are in the 1861 Act but which involve much broader policy considerations: bigamy, attempted abortion and concealing a birth."  [Links added]

This is not the first time that the Commission has visited this area of the law.  In the 1980s, the Commission considered that the criminal law was in urgent need of codification - (see Law Commission 177, 1989).  In 1993, the Commission issued "Criminal Law - Legislating the criminal code - Offences against the Person and General Principles."  Whilst these older reports are instructive to students of the law and, sometimes, practising lawyers, it is perhaps unfortunate that they have not resulted in legislative action by Parliament.

The Ministry of Justice has requested the Commission to examine the law in this area and it is to be hoped that reforms are eventually taken forward.

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