Necessity, non-violent direct activism, and the Stansted 15: reasserting ‘Hoffmann’s Bargain’

Steven Cammiss, Graeme Hayes, Brian Doherty

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In Thacker and ors the Court of Appeal overturned the convictions of the 'Stansted 15', due to a misdirection on the substantive offence. However, the court rejected their necessity defence, following Jones, as their actions were political, outweighing a desire to avoid a risk of death or serious injury; in a ‘functioning democratic state’ their claims should have been pursued through conventional means. This is a reaffirmation of what we call ‘Hoffmann’s Bargain’; in Jones, Lord Hoffmann noted that non-violent protestors who act proportionately can expect the state to act with restraint, but a necessity defence is unavailable. We argue that this rejection of the defence is mistaken and overly broad for direct action cases. It also fails to acknowledge Valderamma-Vega, where the Court of Appeal held that defendants who claim duress may act for different motives as long as one is the avoidance of death or serious injury.
Original languageEnglish
JournalModern Law Review
Early online date23 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Dec 2021


  • Necessity
  • Duress of Circumstances
  • Prevention of Crime
  • Protest
  • Non-Violent Direct Action


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