Palmer v The Queen: PC 23 Nov 1970

It is a defence in criminal law to a charge of assault if the defendant had an honest belief that he was going to be attacked and reacted with proportionate force: ‘If there has been an attack so that defence is reasonably necessary, it should be recognised that a person defending himself cannot weigh to a nicety the exact measure of necessary defensive action. If a jury is of the opinion that in a moment of unexpected anguish the person attacked did only what he honestly and reasonably thought was necessary, that should be regarded as most potent evidence that only reasonably defensive action was taken.’
Jamaica – The defendant appealed against his conviction for murder, arguing self defenec.
Held: After setting out the elements of the defence of self-defence, Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest said: ‘if the prosecution have shown that what was done was not done in self-defence then that issue is eliminated from the case. If the jury consider that the accused acted in self-defence or if the jury are in doubt as to this then they will acquit. The defence of self-defence either succeeds so as to result in an acquittal or it is disproved in which case as a defence it is rejected.’
Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest, Lord Donovan, Lord Avonside
[1971] 1 All ER 1077, (1971) 55 Cr App R 223 (PC), [1971] AC 814, [1970] UKPC 31, [1971] 2 WLR 831, (1971) 55 Cr App R 223
Not FollowedThe Queen v Howe 1958
High Court of Australia – Criminal Law – Murder – Conviction – Quashed on appeal to Supreme Court – New trial ordered – Appeal to High Court by Crown – Special leave – Questions of law affecting law of homicide – Importance – Self-defence – . .
PreferredJohn De Freitas v The Queen 1960
(West Indian Federal Supreme Court) If the prosecution have shown that the defendant’s actions were not done in self defence, then that issue is eliminated from the case. . .

Cited by:
CitedBici and Bici v Ministry of Defence QBD 7-Apr-2004
Claimants sought damages for personal injuries incurred when, in Pristina, Kosovo and during a riot, British soldiers on a UN peacekeeping expedition fired on a car.
Held: The incidents occurred in the course of peace-keeping duties. It was . .
CitedBuckley, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions Admn 22-Oct-2004
Appeal against conviction for common assault. The defendant argued his actions had been in defence of his girlfriend who had been surrounded in the street by an aggressive group of drunken young women. The magistrates had found his reaction to be . .
CitedRegina (Anderson and Others) v HM Coroner for Inner North Greater London QBD 26-Nov-2004
The deceased suffered depressive mental illness, and was detained outside on a cold night naked and in a cannabis induced delirium. Because of his size, additional officers were called upon to assist restraining him. He was taken to hospital, but . .
CitedAshley and Another v Sussex Police CA 27-Jul-2006
The deceased was shot by police officers raiding his flat in 1998. The claimants sought damages for his estate. They had succeeded in claiming damages for false imprisonment, but now appealed dismissal of their claim for damages for assault and . .
CitedRegina v Clegg HL 25-Jan-1995
The defendant was a soldier on patrol in Northern Ireland. He was convicted of the murder of the passenger and attempted murder of the driver of a stolen car. He said he had fired in self defence. The Court of Appeal had rejected his appeal saying . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 16 March 2021; Ref: scu.444511