LEGAL EAGLE: My son has just brought home a Samurai sword, is he allowed to have this?

My 19-year-old son is really into Japanese culture, and recently brought home a large, curved Samurai sword which he is planning on mounting on his bedroom wall.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 12:00 am

Sign up to our daily newsletter

It’s brand new so it’s very sharp, and I don’t like having something so dangerous in the house. Is he even allowed to have this?

It is not widely known but the law in this area changed on July 14, 2021 with the commencement of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019.

That Act amended section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 to make it an offence to possess certain items even in private places.

The full list of these prohibited items can be found in the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order, but it includes curved swords with blades longer than 50cm from hilt to tip.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Based on what you have said, your son’s sword would likely be prohibited under the order, so, by having it in your home, both you and your son are likely to be committing an offence.

The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 does provide defences to this new offence, but these are very narrow in scope.

The offence does not apply to antique weapons which are defined as weapons made at least 100 years before the date of the alleged offence.

There is also an exception for swords made before 1954 and swords made at any time according to traditional methods of making swords by hand.

This provision caters for those who collect traditional swords.

There also remain exceptions for Crown and visiting forces, religious ceremonies, religious dress, museums and galleries and theatrical performances and the productions of films and television programmes.

Given what you say, the available defences appear unlikely to apply in this case.

The offence itself is known as a summary only offence which means it can only be dealt with at the magistrate’s court and carries a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment.

Legally disposing of the sword may prove difficult so I would advise you, or anyone else with a weapon found on the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order, to get in contact with a solicitor before taking any action.