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Fault Essay

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Introduction

Fault Essay English law is largely based on the idea that there should be no liability without proof of fault. Fault implies a sense of blameworthiness, the concept of which is evident in both the criminal and civil law. Fault is partially important in criminal law where it is accepted that a defendant must be responsible for his actions and be regarded as blameworthy. The notion of fault is inextricably linked to the idea of fairness and justice as it is the overriding aim of the law to only punish those who have broken it. The requirement of fault is clearly demonstrated in the actus reus (AR) of an offence where the defendants (D's) conduct must generally be carried out voluntarily in order for liability to be attached. With regards to coincidence for example, the courts have adopted a flexible approach in order to find fault and attach responsibility in the interests of justice even where strictly speaking the AR and MR don't co-inside. In Fagan, liability was attached to a continuing act and in Thabo Meli a sequence of events. Also, result crimes such as murder require proof that the D is both the factual and legal cause of the consequence if he is to be held responsible. ...read more.

Middle

The D cannot avoid liability if the V is particularly susceptible to injury. For example, by having the thin skull rile as according to the law, he must take his victim as he finds them. In Blaue, the V was a Jehovah's Witness and was stabbed by D. As a result of refusing a blood transfusion on religious grounds they died. The rule demonstrates that fault can be attached by "fluke", as the D caused the injuries he is at fault and is therefore liable for the full consequences of his actions whether he foresaw the outcome or not. There are three distinct degrees of fault in criminal law, these are, intention, recklessness and negligence. The more at fault a defendant is, the highest degree being intention, then the more they will be held responsible for their crimes. All three parts reflect the differing levels of mens rea on the part of the defendant. It is easier to prove objective recklessness than subjective recklessness, as objective recklessness involves comparing the actions of the defendant to the reasonable man. Following the landmark case of R v G, the objective test is no longer valid in relation to criminal damage as it did not adequately reflect individual fault. ...read more.

Conclusion

With more serious offences there is a presumption of mens rea which clearly indicates the importance the judiciary attach to the requirement of proof of fault as confirmed in Sweet v Parsley. In this case, a land lady rented her house to a group of students. Unknown to her, they were growing cannabis which was later found by the police. She was held accountable for this; even know she had no knowledge of it. This does not adequately reflect mens rea. This was also confirmed in B v DPP where it was illustrated that the defendant must be at fault to be liable due to the seriousness of the consequences. Absolute liability offences contrast with the application of the actus reus here as when the absence of a voluntary act will not allow the defendant to avoid liability. Taking everything into account it is apparent that fault is an essential part of our legal system and is reflected through a range of offences, defences and sentences. Without the requirement of proof of fault, there is potential for injustice. However, there are areas of the law where the imposition of liability without proof of fault can be justified on the grounds of public policy, mostly in the form of strict liability offences. On the whole, the public expects and wants the law to identify who is at fault and punish them with the corresponding sentence. ...read more.

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