Under Section 21 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935, assault causing physical or mental harm defines the terms of ‘physical harm’, ‘mental harm’ and ‘serious harm’. Physical harm includes actions that may cause unconsciousness, pain, disfigurement, or infection with a disease.
Mental harm includes actions that cause psychological harm, but do not include emotional reactions such as anger, fear or grief, unless these emotions result in psychological harm. Serious harm is defined as harm that endangers a person’s life, harm that consists of or results in serious disfigurement or serious or protracted impairment of a physical or mental function.
Section 22 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 – conduct falling outside the ambit of this division – describes the circumstances in which the definition of harm does not apply. The division does not apply where a victim lawfully consents to the act causing harm (lawful consent can only be given by consenting adults of sound mind; however, an adult or guardian may give consent for lawful acts).
It does not apply where consent has been given and the nature of the harm falls within normal social limits. A few examples of conduct falling outside the definition of harm include participating in sport or recreational events, fertility control procedures, religious purposes (male circumcision, but not female genital mutilation)
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.