Criminal Law Legislation Update

DOI10.1350/jcla.2013.77.4.847
AuthorLaura McGowan
Publication Date01 Aug 2013
SubjectCriminal Law Legislation Update
Criminal Law
Legislation Update*
Laura McGowan
Primary legislation
The Crime and Courts Act 2013 received Royal Assent on 25 April
2013. This Act establishes the National Crime Agency and abolishes the
Serious Organised Crime Agency and the National Policing Improve-
ment Agency. Part 2 concerns courts and justice and Part 3 concerns
border control.
As a response to cases of householders who were arrested after killing
intruders in their home, with effect from 25 April 2013, s. 43 of the
Crime and Courts Act 2013 makes provision for the use of force in self-
defence at a place of residence by amending s. 76 of the Criminal Justice
and Immigration Act 2008. These changes go further than clarifying
existing law; they are intended to strengthen the law in relation to
householders who are defending themselves from intruders in their
homes (known as ‘householder cases’). The effect of new s. 76(5A) of
the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, as inserted by the 2013
Act, is that householders who use a disproportionate level of force to
protect themselves or others in their homes will not automatically be
regarded as having acted unlawfully. New s. 76(8A) of the 2008 Act
states that the defence applies when (a) householders are defending
themselves or others; (b) they are in, or partly in, a building or part of
a building that is a dwelling or is armed forces accommodation (or
is both); (c) they are not trespassing at the time the force is used; and
(d) they are defending themselves from a person who they believe is in
or entering the building as a trespasser. The use of grossly dispropor-
tionate force will, however, continue to be unlawful.
It should be noted that the new provision must be read in conjunction
with the other elements of s. 76 of the 2008 Act. The level of force used
must still be reasonable in the circumstances as the householder be-
lieved them to be (s. 76(3)). Section 76(7) says if people only do what
they honestly and instinctively thought was necessary for a legitimate
purpose, this will be strong evidence that only reasonable action was
taken for that purpose.
The Justice and Security Act 2013 provides for oversight of the
Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service, the Government Com-
munications Headquarters and other activities relating to intelligence or
security matters. It also contains provisions for closed material pro-
cedure in relation to certain civil proceedings (known as ‘secret courts’)
* As at 27 May 2013.
Barrister, Carmelite Chambers; e-mail: laurajmcgowan@gmail.com.
279The Journal of Criminal Law (2013) 77 JCL 279–280
doi:10.1350/jcla.2013.77.4.847

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