Rozsa v Samuels

A Case Summary of Rozsa v Samuels [1969]

Rozsa v Samuels [1969] is an Australian case on the issue of assault. It examined whether a conditional threat might be sufficient to amount to assault.

Case name & citation: Rozsa v Samuels [1969] SASR 205

The case is from: South Australian State Reports

Area of law: Assault; conditional threat

Given below are the case details:

Facts of the case (Rozsa v Samuels)

D (defendant) was a taxi driver who positioned his vehicle at the front of a queue. Another taxi driver, V (victim), argued with D about cutting in line.  D responded, “I’m here, and I’m staying here.” V then warned to punch D in the head, to which D responded by pulling out a knife and stating, “I’ll cut you to pieces if you try it.” D attempted to exit his vehicle but was stopped by V slamming the taxi door shut to prevent him from getting out. D was charged with assault.

Issue that arose

The legal issue, in this case, was whether D’s actions would constitute assault or whether it could be considered self-defence.

Analysis and Decision of the Court

D’s response in this situation involved a conditional threat (i.e., a threat to inflict violence if V does not back off).

The Court determined that it was important to examine the nature of the threat and whether D had any right to impose that threat. One potential ground for justifying such threats is self-defence or protection of one’s rights. However, in this scenario, the Court found that D threatened to use excessive force, eliminating the possibility of relying on self-defence.

As a result, D was found to be guilty of assault because his response involved excessive force and went beyond what was necessary for self-defence. Here, D’s words and actions amounted to more than a mere threat of force to deter someone from pursuing an unlawful course of action. It was highlighted that there were alternative lawful means that D could have used to avoid the confrontation, such as locking his cab doors or moving away from the situation. Other reasonable options were available to him to address his concerns without resorting to threats or violence.

Summing up (Rozsa v Samuels)

Rozsa v Samuels [1969] can be summarized as a case where a taxi driver’s conditional threat of violence went beyond what is reasonable for self-defence. He was convicted of assault as his words accompanied by actions were found to be excessive. There were other lawful options that he could have pursued rather than making use of a threat of force.


The case emphasizes that courts consider the whole of the situation including available alternatives and reasonableness of the threat when evaluating whether it can be categorized as an assault.

List of references:

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