• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the problem of causation in criminal law and what rules have evolved to deal with the problem.

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the problem of causation in criminal law and what rules have evolved to deal with the problem. Causation in its basest terms is simply the remoteness of the act from the crime. This in itself has caused many problems with regard to legal argument and also subsequent loopholes that appeared within the criminal law. It has been established over many years and tried cases, that there must be a clear and unbroken link, or chain of events, that links the defendant to the criminal act. The first and most important point to be considered is "would the act have occurred anyway?" This is often referred to as the "but for" test. In simplest terms this means would the consequence of the defendants act have occurred in the same way at the same time 'but for' the defendants actions. If the answer to this question is 'Yes' then the defendant is not guilty of that crime, R. ...read more.


stabbing (V), because (A) would be an intervening act which has broken the chain of causation. R. v. Jordan (1956) This question of an intervening act has further refined in R. v. Smith (1959) which goes on to state that if the stab wound above was the "Operating Cause" of (V)'s death then (D) would still be guilty of murder. However, this had only served to open more questions rather than resolving them. Because as medical science advanced, more and more heroic efforts were being made to preserve life and mistakes and further complications were an inevitable side-effect. If (V) of the stab wound had died three months after the act due to late onset complications, which occurred after the visible wound had healed then surely (D) would be innocent, as the stab was no longer an operating cause. This was argued in R. v. Cheshire (1991) and the courts upheld Cheshire's conviction and stated "Only in the most exceptional circumstances would the accused be excused from causation by medical treatment." This opinion was reiterated in R. ...read more.


If the victim, against better judgement or due to some religious tenet refuses treatment, would our (D) still be guilty of murder, if (V) a devout Jehovah's Witness refused a transfusion? The answer to this is yes, and was illustrated in R. v. Holland (1841) and R. v. Blaue (1975) "you must take the victim as you find them." The final and un-argued question of causation is one of superfluous act. Was the defendants' act unnecessary in the light of events as they occurred? So, if we consider our defendant if he had stabbed (V) as part of a gang whom had repeatedly stabbed (V) and our (D) waited until everyone else had finished before he stabbed (V), the question to be considered is; if (V) dies, was it (D)'s stab which killed him because it was unnecessary? Or was he going to die as a result of a previous stab wound? This has as yet to be argued in court, what the outcome would be I have no idea, the only thing I can say for certain is, that I pity the defendants legal team. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sources of Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

The rules of causation have been set out, but the answer would benefit considerably by including the facts of the cases that have been identified. Without this detail, the problems of causation referred to in the question cannot be clearly explained.
Rating: ***

Marked by teacher Nick Price 06/06/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sources of Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Common Law and Equity

    5 star(s)

    The flexible approach and the lack of consistency in the Chancellors decisions and the fact that the common law was so inflexible it was unfair caused great deals of conflict between the common law courts and the Court of Chancery.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    the english legal system unit1 assignment4

    4 star(s)

    In respect to possible claims against a solicitor for negligence all solicitors are obliged to take out a professional indemnity insurance policy. There is also a necessary requirement to pay into the Law Society's Compensation Fund which was set up to repay the Clients of Solicitors who have been fraudulent or dishonest.

  1. Marked by a teacher


    4 star(s)

    Obiter Dicta statements. This is particularly true of Obiter in the House of Lords e.g. R v Howe (1987) the Lords ruled that duress could not be a defence for a charge of murder. So the Lords also followed Obiter that duress would not be available as an offence for someone charged with attempted murder.

  2. Common Law and Equity Essay

    All four remedies mentioned above are still widely used today. Injunctions can be used in issues of domestic violence or noise pollution whereas rescission, specific performance and rectification can all be used in the law of contract. Equity also created maxims which had to be satisfied before equitable rules could be applied.

  1. Explain the distinction between the law and morals and consider the importance of the ...

    Positivists however hold that if legal rules have been enacted by the correct procedures, then those legal rules must be obeyed, even if they are not liked and are in conflict with morality. In 1957 the Wolfenden Committee was asked to examine and consider a range of moral issues.

  2. Free essay

    How effective are domestic and international legal measures in dealing with human trafficking?

    Act 1999. This act established legislation to formally criminalise trafficking and related crimes, and increase penalties for trafficking related offenses. It was this very legislation that was to serve the purpose of providing the Australian Government with the precision and authority to pursue an aggressive criminal justice response.

  1. "The main aims of the Land Registration Acts were to give certainty to title ...

    The current situation is that physical inspection may not uncover all overriding interests, as seen in cases such as Pettitt v. Pettitt (1970)32 and William & Glyn's Bank v. Boland (1981)33 it is these 'undiscoverable' minor interests that are a problem in our modern system.

  2. Commercial law discussion - 'Transfer of Title by a Non-Owner'.

    provides that nothing in the Sale of Goods Act affects: 'the validity of any contract of sale under any special common law or statutory powers of sale, or under the order of a court of competent jurisdiction.' The High Court has the power to order a sale if the goods

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work