Self-defence is part of private defence, the doctrine in English law that one can act in ways that would otherwise be illegal to prevent injury to oneself or others, or to prevent crime more generally – one has the same right to act to protect others as to protect oneself.
about SELF-DEFENSE in English LAW
This defence arises both from common law and the Criminal Law Act 1967. Self-defence in English law is using reasonable force against an unjust threat. Self-defence is a justification rather than an excuse (Robinson’s classification of defences), that is, the defence is asserting that the actions were not a crime at all.
Self-defence in English law is a complete defence of justification in cases involving all levels of assault. Hence, self-defence is distinguishable from loss of control, which only applies to mitigate what would otherwise have been murder to manslaughter (i.e., loss of control is not a complete defence).
Because of the completeness of the defence, self-defence is interpreted in a relatively conservative way to avoid creating too generous a standard of justification. The more forgiving a defence, the greater the incentive for a cynical defendant to exploit it when planning the use of violence or in explaining matters after the event. Thus, although the jury in self-defence cases is entitled to take into account the physical characteristics of the defendant, that evidence has little probative value in deciding whether excessive force was actually used. The general common law principle is stated in Beckford v R:
- “A defendant is entitled to use reasonable force to protect himself, others for whom he is responsible and his property. It must be reasonable”