Suppose that someone of whom one is not fond walks up to you while you are having a conversation with another and stands quite too close for comfort and you ask them to get out of your personal space. Instead of doing so, they stand even closer to you before sarcastically asking "oh, how's this?" While standing up taller than before to deliberately, threateningly, lean into your face more than before. The individual's entire intention is to violate your personal space against your declared wishes so as to humiliate you.

If you hit this person, would you be arrested?

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    We don't know. The three questions are if you would be arrested by the officer on the spot, charged, and convicted. Escalating from words to blows is generally a bad move, and proving what happened before it came to blows can be difficult. – o.m. Oct 2 '20 at 10:24
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    UK law permits the use of reasonable force for preventing a crime. Since the annoying person is not about to commit a crime, no amount of force would be permitted in that scenario. Even if a crime were about to be committed, it's dubious whether hitting the person would be reasonable, as opposed to e.g. shoving them away. – amon Oct 2 '20 at 10:28
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    I mean it isn't so much words to blows as it is threatening gestures to blows. He is invading your space, challenging you to vacate it and back down, implicitly backed by a threat to hit you if you decline. – Joseph P. Oct 2 '20 at 10:56
  • I see. That is a good point about shoving them away although wouldn't such a move likely result in retaliatory blows by the other person? – Joseph P. Oct 2 '20 at 10:57
  • This can be further complicated by other circumstances. What if the bully is much stronger than you, and if he hits first you won't have any chances to stop him. And you are reasonably certain that he will proceed to hit you. But had you hit first, you could have a chance at stopping him. – vsz Oct 2 '20 at 12:30

Where is the threat of imminent harm?

Self-defence in English law requires a reasonable (subjective) belief that an attack is imminent or actually underway. If you reasonably believe that this is a genuine prelude to imminent attack and not, as described, someone just being a prick then reasonable (objective) force can be used.

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