As students of criminal law soon discover to their surprise, the law on assaults is found in a nineteenth century statute: the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. That statute consolidated a large number of offences, most of which originated from many years prior to 1861. So, some of the most commonly used criminal offences are well over 200 years old. That also explains why we have some very odd-sounding criminal offences. Remarkably the following is still an offence:The age of the statute may explain some of the difficulties the courts have had in applying the statute to situations which would never have entered the minds of those drafting the legislation.
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- CHAPTER 4