Swords and the Law
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Re: Criminal Justice Act 1988 - Amendment order 2008
Addition of some swords to the Offensive Weapons Order list of prohibited items


As of the 6th April 2008 the Government introduced an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 which saw the addition of some Swords to the Offensive Weapons Order list. This is a list of items prohibited for sale, import, trade of transfer within the UK.

Please see below for a guide to how this legislation affects you.

Q: Are all swords now illegal?
A: No. the new legislation only covers some swords with a curved blade over 50cm.


Q: Is it just Samurai Swords that are now banned?
A: No. ANY sword with a curved blade over 50cm is now banned from sale, import, trade or transfer. This includes Persian Talwars, Military Cavalry swords, some Fantasy swords and many other types of sword unless specifically exempted - see below.


Q: Do I have to surrender my Samurai Sword I have at home?
A: No. Ownership of all swords is perfectly legal so you can keep any sword you have already in your possession. You cannot sell it or give it away.


Q: Are all Samurai Swords now banned?
A: Under UK legislation, no. The law only affects some swords over 50cm so although Katana swords are now banned (unless covered by the list of exemptions), most Wakizashi and Tanto swords have blades under 50cm so are unaffected by this legislation


Q: Are straight bladed swords affected?
A: No. The new legislation only covers curved bladed swords - straight bladed swords are totally unaffected by this legislation. The Home Office have indicated that there may be an extension of the legislation to cover all swords by October 2008 but as yet this is undecided.



Q: How is the blade length measured?
A: The legislation covers all swords over 50cm. The measurement is to be taken from the tip of the blade to the top of the handle (where the blade meets the handle) in a straight line NOT following the curve of the blade.


Q; Are there any exemptions?
A: Yes. There are several exemptions to the sword ban - These exemptions are:



•Members of historical re-enactment groups which hold a Public Liability Certificate.
•Members of a Martial Arts club which hold a Public Liability Certificate.
•Use for authorized Theatrical / film use.
•All Swords over 100 years old.
•Samurai Swords made before 1954.
•Samurai Swords made in Japan at any time using the traditional forging technique.


As of 1st August 2008 a 2nd amendment was made to this legislation adding the following exemptions:

•Where only swords made using ‘the traditional technique’ in Japan were exempt, this has now been widened to cover swords made anywhere in the world “according to traditional methods of making swords by hand”

•Also, it is now permitted to import / make / buy a sword for the “purpose only of making the weapon available for the purposes of use in religious ceremonies”.


Q: Can you bequeath a Sword to someone in your will?
A: Yes, you can legally receive a sword covered under this legislation if left to you in a will.


Q: I have a genuine WWII Officers sword - is this exempt from the ban?
A: No - ALL curved blades swords with a blade over 50cm are included in the ban unless covered by the listed exemptions (see above)


Q: Can I buy a traditionally hand forged sword from China?
A: Yes - Since 1st August 2008 swords made “according to traditional methods of making swords by hand” are now exempt from restriction relating to sale or import.


Q: Can I make myself a new sword for use in my own home?
A: Yes. So long as you are making the sword 'according to traditional methods of making swords by hand'. This is covered under the 2nd amendment which came into force on 1st August 2008. If you wish to make a sword using stock removal techniques or non-traditional methods this will not be allowable under current legislation.


Q: I have a sword which needs a new handle - can I replace the handle?
A: Yes - Manufacturing a new sword is prohibited but repairing / refurbishing an existing sword is allowable so long as it retains it's original dimensions.


Q: I am a sikh and want a large Talwar for ceremonial purposes - can I buy one?
A: Yes. There is now a specific exemption to this legislation allowing swords to be obtained / manufactured for use in religious ceremonies.


Q: I have a retail shop where I sell swords - can I no longer continue to do so?
A: Retailers and dealers can sell these swords so long as they can prove the swords not exempt from restriction are being sold to eligible buyers (covered by the exemptions) It is for the retailer to confirm the validity of the buyer through checking membership details of an appropriate club or association. Any retailer supplying a sword covered by the ban and not making these checks will be guilty of an offence and liable to prosecution. The exact mechanics of how this is to be done has not yet been confirmed by the Home Office.


Q: What are the penalties for breaking the new law?
A: Anyone convicted of breaking this new legislation will be liable to 6 months imprisonment, a fine not exceeding Level 5 on the standard scale (£5000) or both.



Although this guide is compiled from the latest official government information, no liability for loss, inconvenience or disruption to business can be accepted by the author. The Home Office recommends that you seek professional legal advice for specific cases or situations.

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Amendment of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988

2.—(1) The Schedule to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988(3) (which specifies offensive weapons for the purposes of section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988) is amended as follows.

(2) In paragraph 1, after sub-paragraph (q) insert—

“(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.”.
(3) After paragraph 2 insert—

“3. It shall be a defence for a person charged—

(a)with an offence under section 141(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988; or
(b)with an offence under section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979(4),
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 in Japan before 1954 or was made in Japan at any other time according to traditional methods of forging swords.'

And the ammendment 2008.

2.—(1) The Schedule to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988(3) (which specifies offensive weapons for the purposes of section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988) is amended as follows.

(2) For paragraph 3 substitute—

“3. It shall be a defence for a person charged—

(a)with an offence under section 141(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988; or
(b)with an offence under section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979(4),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.”.

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Criminal Law, England And Wales
Criminal Law, Northern Ireland
The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2008

Made
25th July 2008

Coming into force
1st August 2008

The Secretary of State makes the following Order in exercise of the powers conferred by section 141(11D) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988(1).

In accordance with section 141(11E) of that Act(2), a draft of this Order was laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
Citation, commencement and extent

1.—(1) This Order may be cited as the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2008 and shall come into force on the seventh day after the day on which it is made.
(2) This Order extends to England and Wales and Northern Ireland.
Amendment of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988

2.—(1) The Schedule to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988(3) (which specifies offensive weapons for the purposes of section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988) is amended as follows.
(2) For paragraph 3 substitute—
“3. It shall be a defence for a person charged—
(a) with an offence under section 141(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988; or
(b) with an offence under section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979(4),
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.”.
(3) After paragraph 5, insert—
“5A. It shall be a defence for a person charged—
(a) with an offence under section 141(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988; or
(b) 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 his conduct was for the purpose only of making the weapon available for the purposes of use in religious ceremonies.”.
(4) In paragraph 6, for “paragraphs 3 and 4” substitute “paragraphs 3, 4 and 5A”.
Vernon Coaker
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Home Office
25th July 2008



EXPLANATORY NOTE

(This note is not part of the Order)
Section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (“section 141”) provides that any person who manufactures, sells or hires or offers for sale or hire, exposes or has in his possession for the purpose of sale or hire, or lends or gives to any other person, a weapon to which that section applies shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or both. The importation of any such weapon is prohibited.
The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988 (the “1988 Order”) specifies weapons to which section 141 applies. Swords with a curved blade of 50 centimetres or over in length are in the list of specified weapons contained in the 1988 Order. In relation to such swords, this Order widens an existing defence to offences under section 141(1) and section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. This amended defence applies to swords made anywhere in the world either before 1954 or at any other time according to traditional methods of making swords by hand. The Order also creates a new defence where the conduct which gave rise to the offence was undertaken for the purposes of making the weapon available for use in religious ceremonies.

 

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2008/uksi_20082039_en_1

 

 
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