In what circumstances may assault or battery be justified?

The assault or battery may be justified in the following cases:

(1) Defence of Person

It is a principle of common sense that a person when attacked should be permitted to defend himself. Self defence or defence of one’s wife or husband, children, parents or one’s master is always permissible under English law, This plea of self-defence is technically known as “Son assault demesne” which means that the assault complained of was the result of the plaintiff’s own attack. But it should be noted that the use of force in self-defence, would be legally permissible only if:

(a) Firstly the free used was not unnecessary, and

(b) Secondly, it was not disproportionate to the evil to be prevented.

In Race Vs. Taylor it was held that it would not be justification of an assault or battery, if the force used was disproportionate. The defendant must not reply to the plaintiff assault or trespass with a fore and spirit altogether disproportionate to the provocator.

(2) Defence of Property

Assault in defence of the possession of a house of goods and chattels is justifiable, provided that no more force is used than is reasonably necessary.

(3) Expulsion of trespasser

If a man enters into the house or land of another without permission and with force and violence, the owner of the house or land is justified in turning him out without a previous request to depart and may use such force as is necessary. But if the trespasser enters quietly, he must be first requested or retire before any force is used to turn him out.

(4) Retaking of goods

The rightful owner may justify an assault in order to repossess or retake the land or goods which are wrongfully in possession of another who refuses to deliver them up on request so long as no unnecessary violence is used.

(5) Exercise of Parental or quasi-parental authority

Assault or battery may be justified on the ground that it was done in exercise of parental or quasi-parental authority. In other words a reasonable force may be used for correction of a pupils child etc. provided that the force is not excessive or unreasonable. But it should be noted that a husband has however, no such right over his wife.

(6) Leave and Licence

A person cannot complain of harm to the chances to which he has exposed himself with knowledge and of his free will, for example-boxing, football game etc. Justification of this class is based on the maxim volent-non fit injurla.

(7) Preservation of the public peace

A person, who disturbs a public peace, may by use of reasonable force, to be removed.

(8) Legal Process

Assault or battery may be justified on the ground that it was done in serving legal process including search under any law.

Leave a Comment