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An omission is a failure to act

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Introduction

Discuss whether the law on omissions is satisfactory. An omission is a failure to act. Where someone fails to act, they will not be liable under criminal law however, in some situations people have a duty to act and criminally liability will be imposed. An example of when someone has a duty to act is when there is a special relationship. A practical example of this is demonstrated in the case of R v Lowe. Whereby the parents failed to call the doctor when their child fell ill. The special relationship between the child and the father made the father criminal liable where he failed to act under his duty of care. ...read more.

Middle

By failing to feed her and seek medical help they incurred criminal liability for her death. On the other hand, Stone and Dobinson were not mentally equipped to sufficiently carry out their duty of care. It could also be argued that they did make some attempt to care for Fanny, but the court decided that they had still failed in caring for somebody they have a duty for. Contract can also give rise to a duty to act. In the case of R v Pittwood, where a man became immediately criminally liable when he failed to act under his contract resulted in a death. The decision in this case is generally seen as satisfactory, as his carelessness was what lead to a mans death, but others say that as a human being, accidents always happen and that he never intended to kill anybody. ...read more.

Conclusion

Generally, it is decided on the terms of each case whether or not the relationship between two individuals is strong enough to make somebody criminally liable. This has often been criticised by academics who argue that the law allows for people to ignore those who are dying when they are complete strangers. In France, photographers involved in the death of Princess Diana were prosecuted for ignoring a dying stranger. The law in place in this country should be reformed in this way. It does not seem morally adequate that we, as civilians of the UK can choose whether or not a drowning child ought live, despite, the fact that there may be no relation involved. The law concerning omissions in place in this country should be rethought, without a reform, how many future lives could be lost in the hands of strangers? ...read more.

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