I recently dealt with a gentlemen, whom I shall call Dave, for a little known offence that was introduced earlier this year involving possession of bladed articles in a private place.

Section 141(1A) of the 1988 legislation prohibits the possession in private or public of certain offensive weapons including under subsection (r):

'a sword with a curved blade of 50 centimetres or over in length; and for the purposes of this sub-paragraph, the length of the blade shall be the straight line distance from the top of the handle to the tip of the blade.'

My client, who is ex forces, had amassed over the years a private collection of swords, some of which, had literally overnight become illegal due to a change in the law.

With the help of an expert, we were able to argue that a number of items seized were not unlawful as they were either not long enough or curved enough to fall foul of the legislation.

We also utilised the following exemption to demonstrate that Dave was sufficiently skilled to have made some of the swords by hand:

3. It shall be a defence for a person charged:

1. with an offence under section 141(1) [F12or (1A)] of the Criminal Justice Act 1988; or

2. with an offence under section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979,

In respect of any conduct of his relating to a weapon to which section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 applies by virtue of paragraph 1(r), to show that the weapon in question was made before 1954 or was made at any other time according to traditional methods of making swords by hand.

Following representations, the prosecution offered no evidence against Dave for all offences, making him very happy that he would not lose his prized collection.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.