Regina v Burstow, Regina v Ireland: HL 24 Jul 1997

The defendant was accused of assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he had made silent phone calls which were taken as threatening.
Held: An assault might consist of the making of a silent telephone call in circumstances where it causes fear of immediate and unlawful violence. The court asked how is it to be determined whether a statute is an always speaking statute or one tied to the circumstances existing when it was passed: ‘In cases where the problem arises it is a matter of interpretation whether a court must search for the historical or original meaning of a statute or whether it is free to apply the current meaning of the statute to present day conditions. Statutes dealing with a particular grievance or problem may sometimes require to be historically interpreted. But the drafting technique of Lord Thring and his successors have brought about the situation that statutes will generally be found to be of the ‘always speaking’ variety. Assault, as a criminal offence, may take two forms: (1) unlawful application of force upon a victim, which is called battery, (2) causing the victim to fear an imminent application of force.
Lord Steyn noted that the case of Chan-Fook involved the quashing of the conviction on the ground, inter alia, of the ‘absence of psychiatric evidence to support the prosecution’s alternative case’. However, he stated: ‘The interest of the decision lies in the reasoning on psychiatric injury in the context of Section 47 . . The ruling in that case was based on principled and cogent reasoning and it marked a sound and essential clarification of the law’.

Lord Steyn, Lord Hope of Craighead
[1997] UKHL 34, [1998] 1 Cr App Rep 177, [1998] AC 147, [1997] 4 All ER 225, [1997] 3 WLR 534
Offences Against the Person Act 1861 20 47
England and Wales
CitedRoyal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom v Department of Health and Social Security HL 2-Jan-1981
The court was asked whether nurses could properly involve themselves in a pregnancy termination procedure not known when the Act was passed, and in particular, whether a pregnancy was ‘terminated by a medical practitioner’, when it was carried out . .
Appeal fromRegina v Burstow Admn 29-Jul-1996
Grievous bodily harm can be inflicted by a stalker without direct physical contact and can include psychological damage. The statute could be interpreted to reflect current standards. . .
Appeal fromRegina v Ireland CACD 14-May-1996
Silent telephone calls which resulted in psychiatric damage to the victim could constitute an ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’ for the purposes of section 47 of the 1861 Act. Swinton Thomas LJ said: ‘The early cases pre-date the invention of . .
ApprovedRegina v Chan-Fook CACD 15-Nov-1993
‘Actual bodily harm’ under the 1861 Act, may include injury to any part of the body, including internal organs, the nervous system and the brain. It is capable of including psychiatric injury, but not mere emotion such as fear, distress or panic. . .
ApprovedRegina v Savage; Director of Public Prosecutions v Parmenter HL 7-Nov-1991
The first defendant had been convicted of wounding. She had intended to throw beer over her victim, but her glass slipped from her hand, and cut the victim. The second defendant threw his three year old child in the air and caught him, not realising . .
CitedFagan v Metropolitan Commissioner 31-Jul-1968
The defendant was told by a police officer to park up his car. He did so, but stopped with his wheel, trapping the officer’s foot. The magistrates were unable to decide whether the parking on the officer’s foot was deliberate, but agreed that . .

Cited by:
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Health ex parte Quintavalle (on behalf of Pro-Life Alliance) HL 13-Mar-2003
Court to seek and Apply Parliamentary Intention
The appellant challenged the practice of permitting cell nuclear replacement (CNR), saying it was either outside the scope of the Act, or was for a purpose which could not be licensed under the Act.
Held: The challenge failed. The court was to . .
CitedJarrett v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police CA 14-Feb-2003
The claimant sought damages for false imprisonment and assault after her wrongful arrest. She had waived her handbag at an officer investigating a disturbance and been arrested. The police said the arrest was lawful, she being suspected of common . .
CitedBalkissoon Roodal v The State PC 20-Nov-2003
(Trinidad and Tobago) The appellant challenged the automatic death sentence imposed upon him for murder.
Held: There were conflicting constitutional provisions. Following Fisher, in the context of issues of capital sentences a wider view was . .
Appealed toRegina v Ireland CACD 14-May-1996
Silent telephone calls which resulted in psychiatric damage to the victim could constitute an ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’ for the purposes of section 47 of the 1861 Act. Swinton Thomas LJ said: ‘The early cases pre-date the invention of . .
CitedB (A Minor) v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 23-Feb-2000
Prosecution to prove absence of genuine belief
To convict a defendant under the 1960 Act, the prosecution had the burden of proving the absence of a genuine belief in the defendant’s mind that the victim was 14 or over. The Act itself said nothing about any mental element, so the assumption must . .
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 . .
CitedFitzpatrick v Sterling Housing Association Ltd HL 28-Oct-1999
Same Sex Paartner to Inherit as Family Member
The claimant had lived with the original tenant in a stable and long standing homosexual relationship at the deceased’s flat. After the tenant’s death he sought a statutory tenancy as a spouse of the deceased. The Act had been extended to include as . .
CitedRegina (Smeaton) v Secretary of State for Health and Others Admn 18-Apr-2002
The claimant challenged the Order as regards the prescription of the morning-after pill, asserting that the pill would cause miscarriages, and that therefore the use would be an offence under the 1861 Act.
Held: ‘SPUC’s case is that any . .
CitedMbasogo, President of the State of Equatorial Guinea and Another v Logo Ltd and others CA 23-Oct-2006
Foreign Public Law Not Enforceable Here
The claimant alleged a conspiracy by the defendants for his overthrow by means of a private coup d’etat. The defendants denied that the court had jurisdiction. The claimants appealed dismissal of their claim to damages.
Held: The claims were . .
CitedYemshaw v London Borough of Hounslow SC 26-Jan-2011
The appellant sought housing after leaving her home to escape domestic violence. The violence was short of physical violence, and the authority had denied a duty to rehouse her. She said that the term ‘domestic violence’ in the Act was not intended . .
CitedCoates v Crown Prosecution Service Admn 29-Jul-2011
The defendant appealed by case stated against his conviction for driving a Segway scooter on a footpath. He denied that it was ‘a mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads.’
Held: The appeal failed. The district judge . .
CitedRegina v Morris CACD 22-Oct-1997
An allegation of assault occasioning bodily harm, where the harm alleged was of a purely psychological nature, must be supported by psychiatric evidence. . .
CitedGolding, Regina v CACD 8-May-2014
The defendant appealed against his conviction on a guilty plea, of inflicting grievous bodily harm under section 20. He suffered genital herpes, but had unprotected sex and acknowledged acting recklessly. He said that the prosecution had failed to . .
CitedHaystead v Director of Public Prosecutions QBD 2-Jun-2000
The defendant had hit a mother in the face as she held the child. The force was sufficient to cause her to drop the child causing injury to the child. He appealed against a conviction for beating the child.
Held: The appeal failed. A battery . .
CitedOwens v Owens CA 24-Mar-2017
Unreasonable Behaviour must reach criteria
W appealed against the judge’s refusal to grant a decree of divorce. He found that the marriage had broken down irretrievably, but did not find that H had behaved iin such a way that she could not reasonably be expected to live with H.
Held: . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Crime, Constitutional

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.158907