Liability in Criminal Law

explanatory Essay
1190 words
1190 words

'Liability in criminal law normally requires the prosecution to

establish that the accused has caused the relevant prohibited

consequences or conduct to occur. For instance, in homicide, that the

accused has caused the victims death.'

Within the English Legal System, the chain of causation is established

via numerous principles, which have been recognised by case law, as

the problem areas have come before courts. It is clear that when

ascertaining whether the defendant is the person to fix liability, the

courts will look at two main issues. The first being whether, the

defendants conduct had actually resulted in the death of the victim

and secondly whether the defendants conduct made him liable under

English law. These two points together help to clarify whether or not

a chain of causation exists. It has been made clear by case law that a

defendant cannot be found criminally liable unless it is clear that he

had made a significant contribution to the victim's death. In other

words, implying that the victims conduct in itself must outweigh any

other possible intervening act (novus actus intervenien) which may

have occurred after the act in question. In the case of White 1910 the

factual cause of death was not established as it was clear that his

act had not significantly contributed to the death of his mother.

Although, he did have the necessary intention to 'unlawfully kill

another human being under the Queens peace with malice aforethought.'

When concluding on the factual cause of death, the courts usually turn

to the 'but for' test which states that if it wasn't for the act in

question the defendants death would not have occurred....

... middle of paper ... In this case, the

courts claimed that the original wound was operating and a substantial

cause' at the time of death and therefore the defendant would still be

held liable. Its clear that the courts still remain bias towards the

medical profession mainly because of policy issues and the idea of not

wanting to lower the respect that the general public have for such


The general rule has always been that the accused 'must take the

victim as they may find them', and if it means that the victim refuses

to accept treatment as in the case of Blaue 1975 the defence may try

to put forward this argument of a break in chain of causation, but

with little success as courts havent generally

Public policy - medical conditions (take your victim as you find them)

Where he aggravates his condition/refuses treatment

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that a chain of causation exists. it has been made clear by case law.
  • Explains the 'but for' test, which states that if it wasn't for the act in question, it would have failed.
  • Opines that the 'but for' test plays a significant role, as it has been an important way in testing.
  • Explains that the conduct had to be of an acceptable conduct.
  • Opines that the victim had felt the need to jump out of the car.
  • Explains the decision of the trial judge, which led to the case being quashed.

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