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Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020

Key Concepts: Assault and Battery

4.In criminal law, assault and battery are forms of offence against the person. In civil law, assault and battery constitute a tort, or civil wrong: the tort of trespass against the person.

5.The expression “assault” is commonly used to describe acts involving the application of force against a person. But the concepts of “assault” and “battery” have different, specific meanings in the law of England and Wales.

6.A “battery” for these purposes means the intentional or reckless application of unlawful force to the body of another person. This would include an adult punching another adult, for example. But a battery may also include what might be considered more minor incidences of physical contact, such as a pat on the shoulder. Whether this would constitute a battery would depend on the circumstances of the case.

7.An “assault” occurs where one person causes another person to apprehend the immediate infliction of unlawful force (a face-to-face threat by an adult to punch another adult during a disagreement, for example).

8.The defence of reasonable punishment makes certain acts constituting battery or assault of a child potentially defensible in legal proceedings on the basis that the acts were reasonable – and therefore lawful.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Welsh Government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Welsh Parliament.


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