Self Defence and the Law

Section 3 Criminal Law Act 1967 Section 3(1) of the Criminal Law Act (CLA) 1967 states the following: “A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in the effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or persons unlawfully at large.”

Common Law  (law of self defence) The common law recognises that there are many circumstances in which one person may use force upon another without committing a crime as, for instance, in sporting contests or surgical operations. Included in the common law is a person's right to protect themselves from attack, to act in the defence of others to prevent crime, to arrest offenders, and if necessary to use force on another in so doing. If no more force is used than is reasonable to repel the attack, such force is not unlawful and no crime is committed. Furthermore, a person about to be attacked does not have to wait for their assailant to strike the first blow or fire the first shot; circumstances may justify a pre-emptive strike.