Non Fatal Offences Evaluation

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Non-Fatal Offences Evaluation Recommendations for the reform of this area of the law have been made by both the Criminal Law Revision Committee and the Law Commission. The Law Commission pointed out that there are three main problems with the OAPA 1861. These are that: the Act uses complicated old fashioned language, the structure of the act is complex and that non-lawyers find the Act completely unintelligible. As the Act was written in 1861 much of the language is obscure and old fashioned, for example, the words 'maliciously' and 'grievous'. Many words do not have the same meaning now as they did in 1861 and some words are no longer used or have a specialist legal meaning. An example of this is the word 'malicious', as a layman would define the word as meaning evil or wicked, whereas a lawyer would define the word as meaning specific intention or subjective recklessness (Parmenter 1991). Some words and phrases do not describe what they mean, for example, in ABH 'actual' suggests any harm whereas, in fact, it does not include serious harm. 'Bodily' would seem to exclude mental harm, but in Chan Fook (1993) the court included it. All of these reasons have meant that Lawyers and Juries have struggled to understand the complexity or the different offences. However, some of these problems have been resolved by the judges in case decisions, for example, the ruling in Burstow (1998) which stated that the word 'inflict' in S20 did not mean that a technical assault had to take place. The definition of 'bodily harm' has also been extended to include injury to mental health so that defendants causing such injury can be convicted. Another problem with Non-Fatal Offences is that two of the five offences are common law (assault and battery). The numbering and structure of the offences doesn’t make logical sense; S47, which is causing ABH, carries a maximum

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