Each defendant appealed against convictions associated variously with the cultivation or possession of cannabis resin. They sought to plead medical necessity. There had been medical recommendations to move cannabis to the list of drugs which might be prescribed by a doctor, but this had been rejected.
Held: The appeals failed. There was no over-arching principle applicable in all cases of necessity. ‘However, there is a recognised defence of duress by threats, to which it is clear that the defence of necessity by circumstances bears a close affinity.’ and ‘The necessitous medical use on an individual basis which is at the root of the defences suggested by all the appellants and Mr Ditchfield is in conflict with the purpose and effect of the legislative scheme. First, no such use is permitted under the present legislation, even on doctor’s prescription, except in the context of the ongoing trials for medical research purposes. Secondly, the defences involve the proposition that it is lawful for unqualified individuals to prescribe cannabis to themselves as patients or to assume the role of unqualified doctors by obtaining it and prescribing and supplying it to other individual ‘patients’. This is contrary not only to the legislative scheme, but also to any recommendation for its change . . .’ The UK legislation on drug misuse was not incompatible with the defendants’ human rights.
Mance LJ, Newman J, Fulford J
 EWCA Crim 1415, Times 22-Jun-2005,  Crim LR 148, (2006) 89 BMLR 169,  1 All ER 988,  2 Cr App R 34,  1 WLR 3642
Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 6(1), Misuse of Drugs (Designation) Order 2001 (SI No. 2001 No. 3997), Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001
England and Wales
Cited – Regina v Lockwood CACD 2002
The court heard a second application in person for permission to appeal a conviction for producing cannabis. The defence was necessity. He claimed to use cannabis medicinally to relieve pain. He complained about the judge’s directions on the defence . .
Cited – Regina v Hudson and Taylor CACD 17-Mar-1971
Two teenage girls committed perjury by failing to identify the defendant. When prosecuted they pleaded duress, on the basis that they had been warned by a group, including a man with a reputation for violence, that if they identified the defendant . .
Cited – Hasan, Regina v HL 17-Mar-2005
The House was asked two questions: the meaning of ‘confession’ for the purposes of section 76(1) of the 1984 Act, and as to the defence of duress. The defendant had been involved in burglary, being told his family would be harmed if he refused. The . .
Cited – Perka v The Queen 1984
(Canada) The court analysed the defence of necessity. The concept of necessity is used as an excuse for conduct which would otherwise be criminal. The defence arose where, realistically, the individual had no choice, where the action was . .
Cited – Regina v Howe etc HL 19-Feb-1986
The defendants appealed against their convictions for murder, saying that their defences of duress had been wrongly disallowed.
Held: Duress is not a defence available on a charge of murder. When a defence of duress is raised, the test is . .
Cited – Regina v Rodger, Rose CACD 9-Jul-1997
The two defendants escaped from Parkhurst Prison. On capture they said that as murderers, they had received notices that though they had behaved without criticism in prison, their tarriffs had been increased. They said they felt unable to face . .
Cited – Regina v Martin (Colin) CACD 29-Nov-1988
Defence of Necessity has a Place in Criminal Law
The defendant appealed against his conviction for driving whilst disqualified. He said he had felt obliged to drive his stepson to work because his stepson had overslept. His wife (who had suicidal tendencies) had been threatening suicide unless he . .
Cited – Wang, Regina v HL 10-Feb-2005
The appellant was waiting for a train when his bag was stolen. After a search, the thief tried to deter the appellant from calling the police by suggesting that the bag contained items the appellant should not be carrying. From the bag the appellant . .
Cited – Regina v Pommell CACD 16-May-1995
The defendant appealed against his conviction for possessing a loaded shotgun. He had wished to advance a defence to the effect that on the previous evening he had taken it ‘off a geezer who was going to do some damage with it’ in order to stop him. . .
Cited – Regina v Safi (Ali Ahmed); Regina v Ghayur; Regina v Shah; Regina v Showaib; Regina v Mohammidy; Regina v Shohab; Regina v Ahmadi; Regina v Safi (Mahammad Nasir); Regina v Kazin CACD 6-Jun-2003
The defendants appealed convictions after rejection of their defence of duress. They had hijacked an aeroplane in Afghanistan, and surrendered eventually at Stansted. They said they were acting under duress, believing they had no other way of . .
Cited – Regina v Shayler CACD 28-Sep-2001
Duress as Defence not closely Defined
The defendant had been a member of MI5. He had signed the Official Secrets Act, but then disclosed various matters, including material obtained by interceptions under the Interception of Communications Act. He claimed that his disclosures were made . .
Cited – Regina v Shayler HL 21-Mar-2002
The defendant had been a member of the security services. On becoming employed, and upon leaving, he had agreed to keep secret those matters disclosed to him. He had broken those agreements and was being prosecuted. He sought a decision that the . .
Cited – Regina v Abdul-Hussain; Regina v Aboud; Regina v Hasan CACD 17-Dec-1998
The law of the defence of duress arising out of threat or circumstances is in need of urgent parliamentary clarification. Appeals were allowed where the defendants hijacked an airplane in order to escape deportation to a hostile country. ‘The . .
Cited – Rex v Bourne 1939
An eminent surgeon openly in a public hospital operated to terminate the pregnancy of a 14 year old girl who had become pregnant in consequence of a violent rape.
Held: The court suggested when summing up that there might be a duty in certain . .
Cited – Regina v Brown CACD 2003
The court head a renewed application in person for leave to appeal a conviction for producing cannabis. The defendant sought to rely on a defence of necessity, saying that cannabis was the only way available to him to control the pain of his . .
Cited – Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority and Department of Health and Social Security HL 17-Oct-1985
Lawfulness of Contraceptive advice for Girls
The claimant had young daughters. She challenged advice given to doctors by the second respondent allowing them to give contraceptive advice to girls under 16, and the right of the first defendant to act upon that advice. She objected that the . .
Cited – In re F (Mental Patient: Sterilisation) HL 4-May-1989
Where a patient lacks capacity, there is the power to provide him with whatever treatment or care is necessary in his own best interests. Medical treatment can be undertaken in an emergency even if, through a lack of capacity, no consent had been . .
Cited – In Re A (Minors) (Conjoined Twins: Medical Treatment); aka In re A (Children) (Conjoined Twins: Surgical Separation) CA 22-Sep-2000
Twins were conjoined (Siamese). Medically, both could not survive, and one was dependent upon the vital organs of the other. Doctors applied for permission to separate the twins which would be followed by the inevitable death of one of them. The . .
Cited – McLoughlin v O’Brian HL 6-May-1982
The plaintiff was the mother of a child who died in an horrific accident, in which her husband and two other children were also injured. She was at home at the time of the accident, but went to the hospital immediately when she had heard what had . .
Cited – Regina v CS CACD 29-Feb-2012
The defendant appealed against the refusal of the judge to allow her defence of necessity in answer to a charge under section 1 of the 1984 Act. She said that it had been necessary to prevent the child being sexually abused.
Held: The appeal . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 23 January 2021; Ref: scu.225330