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Self Defence Notes

GDL Law Notes > GDL Criminal Law Notes

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A more recent version of these Self Defence notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our GDL Criminal Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Revision: Criminal



Common Law: complete defence to those who use force to defend themselves


S3 Criminal Law Act 1967: 'a person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention or crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large'


S76 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008: intended to clarify both CL and statutory defences

When can self-defence be used?


To protect yourself or another, or property, from actual attack of the threat of an imminent attack

1. Protection of life and limb of yourself or another

2. Protection of property; R v Hussey

3. Not for a threat to one's peace of mind: R v Bullerton Test for self-defence


D is entitled to rely on this defence if: i)

He honestly believed that the use of force was necessary


And that the level of force used to repel the attack was reasonable

D honestly believed that the use of force was necessary:


D judged on the facts as how he subjectively believed them to be: R v Gladstone Williams


Principle placed on statutory footing by s76(3)-(4) CIJA


Mistake induced by voluntary intoxication: o

R v O'Connor: if mistaken belief is due to the intoxication then D won't be able to rely on defence: this is whether the crime is of specific or basic intent (s76(5) CJIA)


There is no duty to retreat: o

R v Bird: although the force used must be reasonable 1

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