On the abolition of reasonable force

David Round has some interesting things to say on the “Rule of Law” and the recent amendment and probable passing of the anti-smacking bill. Basically the amendment specifies that police have discretion not to prosecute a breach of the law, where the breach is “inconsequential” in their eyes.

Discretion is the enemy of law. Dicey said that the Rule of Law means, in the first place, an absence of arbitrary or discretionary power. We should be punished for clear breaches of defined laws, and nothing else.

I think he overstates the case that “the lightest touch of a child will be an assault” as it certainly isn’t true that the lightest touch of an adult is an assault today. But I think his comments on law are bang on.


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