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[Acts of Parliament - reform of legislation]
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Reform of legislation.

Codification and consolidation

  • Codification gathers all previous statutes and case law together in one act Sale of Goods Act 1994 = codified the law.

  • Consolidating Act does not include the case law gathers together all previous statutes into one act, contains no new provisions.

Reform of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861

Home Office Bill

Reforming the Offences Against the Person Act 1861

Home Office published a Bill in February 1998.

Injury; clause 15

"Injury" is defined as physical or mental injury.

"Physical injury does not include anything caused by disease, but.... includes pain, unconsciousness and any other impairment of a person's physical condition".

"Mental injury does not include anything caused by disease....".

 

Law Commission Proposals

"Legislating the Criminal Code: Offences against the Person and General Principles" (1993)

Law Commission thought the OAP Act could be used in cases of the transmission of disease, but the government has not accepted this entirely.

 

Criminal Law not appropriate for Transmission of disease.

It was felt that it would be inappropriate to use the criminal law where disease was transmitted through normal everyday activities.

Especially where there was a reckless transmission of relatively minor diseases such as mumps or measles even though there might be serious consequences for more vulnerable citizens.

 

AIDs?

As to potentially more serious diseases the government felt it is appropriate to criminalize the deliberate transmission of a disease causing serious illness. However, the government maintains that the existing law requires no significant change.

 

Section 47

Intentionally or recklessly causing injury = triable either way = 5 years imprisonment.

 

Section 20

Recklessly causing serious injury = triable either way = 7 years imprisonment.

 

Section 18

Intentionally causing serious injury = indictable = life imprisonment.

 

These three offences have now been incorporated in a Bill.

The Bill is based very much on the Law Commission's proposals which were widely critically reviewed

Bill removes the difficulty of trying to distinguish between "causing" and "inflicting" GBH

There are some obvious problems with them. For example, if there is a justifiable need to have separate offences dealing with intentional and reckless serious harm why should this not also be necessary for cases of non-serious harm?

The artificial distinction between "wounding" and other bodily harm,

What makes harm more serious?

Its nature?

Its consequence?

Its effect on the victim's lifestyle?

The way it is administered?

The context in which it is administered?

No definitional distinction between serious and non-serious injury is made.

 

Horder has argued that the desire for certainty and the fair labelling principle point to the need for greater distinctions between offences.

He advocates the need for "moral nominalism" so that the law should reflect ordinary moral distinctions by more descriptive definitions.

Thus, there should be separate crimes dealing with mental cruelty and separate offences representing different methods of commission (disablement, disfigurement, castration etc.).

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