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The Defence of Necessity

The Defence of Necessity

When a person uses the defence of necessity, they are claiming that it was necessary for them to commit a crime. This defence often operates where a defendant either commits a crime or suffers or causes another extreme hardship. There are three requirements for the application of the defence of necessity:

1. The act is needed to avoid inevitable or irreparable evil

2. That no more could be done than is reasonably necessary for the purpose to be achieved

3. The evil inflicted should not be disproportionate to the evil avoided

However, the defence of necessity can only be pleaded in certain circumstances and is often unsuccessful. The only types of cases where it is successful is medical cases. The most famous and liberal application of this defence was seen in the case of Re A where doctors plead that it was necessary to allow for the offence of murder in a lifesaving operation to separate conjoined twins. However, it rarely succeeds as it is restrictive in its application.

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