In R v Meade and Belt (1823) the defendants surrounded the plaintiff’s house singing menacing and threatening songs. It was held that mere singing alone could not constitute an assault.
It’s worth comparing the decision in R v Meade and Belt (1823) with the decision in Read v Coker (1853).
In Read v Coker (1853) the plaintiff was a paper-stainer who rented a premise from the defendant. The plaintiff fell behind in his rent and the defendant employed a third party to purchase his fixtures (machines, apparatus etc.) and resell them back to the defendant.
Subsequently the plaintiff and the defendant came to an arrangement where the plaintiff could continue to use his fixtures in the employment of the defendant.
The defendant later became dissatisfied with the plaintiff and ordered him to leave. When the plaintiff (Read) tried to return to the premises the defendant had his men surround him and the men threatened to break his neck. The plaintiff filed for assault and was successful.
Whether an act constitutes an assault or otherwise depends on the facts.
Words alone are sufficient to constitute an assault. In R v Wilson (1955) the plaintiff was a gamekeeper and he caught the defendant poaching. The defendant punched and kicked the plaintiff when he tried to arrest him and yelled “get out the knives”.
The defendant was found guilty of common assault and as per Goddard CJ (obiter) words alone are sufficient to constitute an assault i.e. the words need not be accompanied or followed by threatening gestures.
Copyright © 2018 by Dyarne Ward