Offences Against the Person Act 1861 Essay examples

Offences Against the Person Act 1861 Essay examples

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There has been much discussion on the Offences against the person act
(OAPA) 1861. Many see the act as outdated and clumsy, its wording
unclear and as being difficult to explain and prosecute under. The
OAPA is used in 100,000 prosecutions every year. The Law Commission
has attacked the OAPA for creating constant legal argument and delay
because of unclear wording and wasting thousands of pounds in
taxpayer's money in appeals. Both the Law Commission and the
Government have looked at possible reforms for the act in order to
improve its position in English Law. The 1861 Act is widely criticised
for being archaic and unclear, it is in urgent need of reform. It is
hoped that after the change have been made that the statute will be
able to be used more effectively and efficiently.

The criticisms of the OAPA have been around for several years. Many
lawyers and judges have expressed difficulties in using the act and
there have been Law Commissions set up to look into the act itself.
Jack Straw has described the act as "out-moded and unclear Victorian
legislation"[1] The wording used in the act is now frequently used in
everyday language which has led to differences in meaning and problems
in interpreting the statute. Words such as Grievous Bodily Harm and
Actual Bodily Harm are widely used, however this does not mean that
the offences are easily understood or effective in dealing with
violent behaviour. Some lawyers have even argued that the state of the
OAPA leads to unnecessary and expensive appeals because of the
decisions on questions of law.

Criticism is made often on the way in which the offences themselves
are worded. Th...

... middle of paper ... the
police to explain and charge offences which are more widely
understood. It is also hoped that the task of judges, magistrates and
juries will become more straightforward in the administration of


Violence: Reforming the Offences Against the Person Act 1861,
published 1998.

Law for AQA, Catherine Elliot and Francis Quinn, Longman 2001

Update of assault law may include AIDS and stalking, Francis Gibb


[1] Jack Straw; Violence: Reforming the Offences Against the Person
Act 1861 (pub. 1998)

[2] Jack Straw; Violence: Reforming the Offences Against the Person
Act 1861 (pub 1998)

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