Unlawful wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm
Unlawful wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Unlawful wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm
  • The offence of unlawful wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm
  • Elements of the offence of unlawful wounding of inflicting grievous bodily harm
  • Wounding
  • Infliction of grievous bodily harm
  • What amounts to grievous bodily harm
  • Maliciously
  • Unlawful force
  • Defences to unlawful wounding/infliction of grievous bodily harm
  • Self-defence and related defences
  • more

The offence of unlawful wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm

The offence of unlawful wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm (GBH) can be tried in either the magistrates' court or the Crown Court. The magistrates' court will decline jurisdiction in those cases where it considers its powers of sentencing are insufficient.

To determine whether the magistrates’ court is likely to accept or decline jurisdiction, practitioners may consult relevant sentencing guidelines, see further: Sentencing Council guidelines for unlawful wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm below.

Elements of the offence of unlawful wounding of inflicting grievous bodily harm

Under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OATPA 1861), the prosecution must prove the accused:

  1. wounded, or

  2. inflicted GBH, and

  3. the wounding or infliction of GBH was malicious and unlawful

Wounding

A wound requires that the continuity of the whole skin is broken. This means that both the dermis and epidermis must be broken. A scratch or break to the outer skin will therefore not be sufficient if the inner skin remains intact.

An internal rupture of the blood vessels will not constitute a wound.

Minor wounds such a small cut or a laceration could form the basis of a charge under OATPA 1861, s 20.

However, the CPS Charging Standards state that an offence contrary to OATPA 1861, s 20 should be