Defence of Property in Criminal Law and Tort

Benjamin Andoh, Simon Parsons, Phil Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Subject to exceptions, ownership of property is protected by the Human Rights Act 1998 (Part II, The First Protocol, Art.1). At common law a person has a right to use reasonable force to defend his property. However, there has not been any express statutory definition of “reasonable force”. The nearest there is today is s.43 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which only concerns landowners. That section provides that, as against an intruder, a landowner’s use of force will only be unreasonable if it is grossly disproportionate in the circumstances.
Even though the literature abounds with works on private and public defence in criminal law exclusively and on defence of property in the civil law, again exclusively, the topic of defence of property in both the criminal law and tort has not been covered together. This article, therefore, aims to fill this gap. The first part looks at the position under the criminal law and the second part at the position in the law of tort. The last part concludes the paper. It is observed, inter alia, because section 3(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1967, a statutory provision of general application, allows a person to use reasonable force to prevent the commission of an offence, impliedly, one may use reasonable force to defend his property if doing so will prevent the commission of an offence.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)65-78
Number of pages14
JournalMountbatten Journal of Legal Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


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