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Criminal Law Revision Committee

The Criminal Law Revision Committee (1981) was set up to look at the need for reform as
there was such widespread criticism of the current legislation. It published findings which
lead to the Law Commission undertaking research in the area.

Law Commission
Law Commission published a report Legislating the Criminal Code: Offences Against the
Person and General Principles in 1993. The report described the OAPA 1861 and the law of
common assault as ... inefficient as a vehicle for controlling violence... many aspects of the
law are still obscure and its application erratic...
The Report also contained a draft bill addressing some of the problems but it has not been
considered in Parliament.

Draft Bill
In 1998, the Home Office published a consultation paper Violence: Reforming the Offences
against the Person Act 1861 which included a Draft Bill.
The Bill was largely based on the Law Commission proposals. The Bill set out the offences in
a more logical structure, replacing the offences under the OAPA 1861.

Assault and battery

Statutory definitions for these offences.

An offence of intentionally or recklessly causing injury to another.
To carry a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
Not necessary to prove the injury was caused by an assault or battery.

An offence of recklessly causing a serious injury to another.
To carry a maximum sentence of seven years.
Removed word inflict and replaced with cause.
No reference to wounding.


An offence of intentionally causing a serious injury to another.

To carry a maximum sentence of life.
No reference to wounding.

Injury defined to mean physical injury (including pain, unconsciousness and any
impairment to physical condition) and mental injury (including any impairment of a
persons mental health).

Mens Rea
The harm intended or foreseen must relate to the offence committed (contrary to
Mowatt (1976) and Roberts (1971)).
Intention and recklessness are expressly defined.

The Draft Bill has received much criticism which has led to a lack of progress in its
introduction and means it has not been enacted.
There is also concern that the proposals have still not been adopted and the law remains

It has been argued that the proposed new S47 offence of intentionally or recklessly
causing injury to another should be split into two offences, intentionally causing
injury to another and recklessly causing injury to another. This would bring the
offences in line with those replacing S20 and S18 offences.

The new definition of injury has been criticised for failing to make a clear distinction
between what is sufficient for an injury and what would be charged as the lesser
offence of assault.
The word serious remains undefined.
The term assault continues to mean both an assault and battery.