• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11
  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Law
  • Word count: 3710

Discover whether, in the criminal law, negligence ever breaks the chain of causation and to determine the circumstances if this is ever so

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The object of this essay is to attempt to discover whether, in the criminal law, negligence ever breaks the chain of causation and to determine the circumstances if this is ever so. In order to do this it is necessary to first identify what causation is. In basic terms, causation is simply a question of who or what caused a specific event to happen. For example, in a result crime, it must be proved that the defendant's conduct caused the forbidden consequence. If this cannot be proved, D is not guilty of the crime. Obviously then, causation is an important issue. It is not, however, always a contentious one, as in many cases the cause is obvious and not disputed. Questions on causation usually arise in cases of murder. In order to be guilty of murder you must have caused an acceleration of death. It makes no difference if the victim was already sick, injured or dying, as it can be said that since we will all die someday, we are all dying anyway. As Lord Alverstone CJ said in Dyson1: - "The proper question to have been submitted to the jury was whether the prisoner accelerated the child's death by the injuries which he inflicted in December, 1907. For if he did, the fact that the child was already suffering from meningitis, from which it would in any event have died before long, would afford no answer to the charge of causing its death." Causation is in some sense a difficult area of the law. As The Criminal Law and Penal Reform Committee in south Australia stated2: - "There is no more intractable problem in the law, than causation." Causation can be split into two parts, factual causation and legal causation. The issue of factual causation is generally one for jury to decide. However, when answering the question, they must apply the legal principles that the judge has explained to them. ...read more.

Middle

An example of this principle can be seen in Holland11. In this case D attacked V and seriously injured V's finger. V was advised by doctors to have his finger amputated, but refused. He subsequently contracted tetanus and died. D was held liable for the death despite his defence that the wound he inflicted on V only became life threatening because of V's neglect of it. As J.C. Smith says12: - "Maule J's direction to the jury reflected the common laws answer to the problem. He who inflicted an injury which resulted in death could not excuse himself by pleading that his victim could have avoided death by taking greater care of himself." Another example comes from Smith13. The victim was stabbed by D in a brawl. On the way to the dressing station the V was dropped several times and received "thoroughly bad" medical treatment once he got there. V subsequently died. Giving his judgment on the case lord Parker CJ said14: - "If at the time of death the original wound is still an operating and substantial cause, then the death can properly be said to be the result of the wound, albeit that some other cause of death is also operating." The wound inflicted by D was held to be an operating and substantial cause of V's death so his conviction for murder was upheld. This is a clear case of medical negligence failing to break the chain of causation. The operative cause principle also applies in Malcherek15. In this case D wounded V to the extent that she required surgery. V underwent the surgery and seemed to be recovering, when she suffered a relapse and was placed on a life support machine. Doctors then found her to be "brain dead" and turned off the machine. D argued that the doctors should not have turned the machine off, but it was D who was on trial, not the doctors and evidence from other doctors who might not have turned the machine off could not be admitted. ...read more.

Conclusion

Or to put it another way, when V does something "daft". An example can be found in Roberts26, where V was traveling in a car with D who made sexual advances towards her. V then jumped out of the moving vehicle and sustained injuries. D was held liable. It is because of this confusion that it has been said that the rule of "you take your victim as you find him" should be left to the law of tort. Nonetheless, we can see from the Blaue case that a persons refusal of medical treatment for whatever reason will not break the chain of causation. This is clear since the wounds inflicted by D to require the medical treatment will be the operating cause of V's death. This essay has sought to identify if and when negligence can break the chain of causation in criminal law. It has attempted to do this by concentrating on medical treatment cases and by examining the way the chain can be broken and the criteria that the prosecution must satisfy to prove a defendant criminally responsible for a victim's death. In conclusion it is extremely difficult to break the chain of causation, especially in cases where negligent medical treatment is involved. For the chain to be broken in this way, the negligence must not only be so terrible as to be enough to cause the death in itself, but must also occur at a time when the original injuries inflicted by D are no longer seen to be an operating cause of V's death. This is virtually nonexistent. The law works in this way, as the courts are extremely reluctant to place the blame for patient's deaths on doctors who are trying to save peoples lives. It is apparent that the Judiciary, through the development of case law, have reached the conclusion, that with few exceptions. The chain of causation will not be broken by medical negligence. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

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

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 GCSE Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Law of Evidence - R v Kearley

    5 star(s)

    of words spoken by a person not called as a witness which are said to assert a relevant fact by necessary implication are inadmissible as hearsay. Essentially, the majority held that implied assertions are inadmissible as hearsay, applying the cases of Wright v Doe D Tatham9, Myers v DPP10 and R v Blastland11.

  2. Study the concept of Reasonable man and reasonability in tort law.

    When the question what knowledge of facts and circumstances surrounding him must the defendant have, he will not be excused for failing to observe what a reasonable man would have observed. In the Mersey Docks Trustees v Gibbs13, a dock authority who did not know but ought to have known that he dock was unsafe was negligent.

  1. Worlds Apart: Orientalism, Antifeminism, and Heresy in Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale

    Yet, Munro notes, a stronger counter-tradition of antipathy to Islam exists throughout the Middle Ages: the majority of Christian clergy remained hostile, especially during the high propaganda periods preceding new Crusades. And Delany discusses the deep roots of later medieval (Chaucerian)

  2. Discuss the persuasive techniques used by Michael Moore in three scenes from his film ...

    The pictures often display weak and powerless individuals being 'slain' however information is selectively omitted to make these killings seem irrational but in many cases many of these situations required intervention and disregarded the human rights of the citizens. However Moore does stress that 4 American Nuns were killed in

  1. Metafiktion er betegnelsen for den type af sknlitteratur, film og drama, som gr opmrksom ...

    Fort�llingen har indholdsm�ssige ting som b. la. forbindelsen til gud, sk�bnen og rammfort�llingen tilf�ldes med mange andre af Karen Blixens historier og romaner. Sk�bnen bliver dog sat i st�rre perspektiv i "Dykkeren" da hun ogs� anvender intertekster som "Biblen" og "Koranen".

  2. Is the imposition of strict liability ever justifiable in criminal law?

    The bodies tend to work by pressuring any potential offenders into putting right any breaches with the threat of prosecution. It is the opinion of this essay that this could be an effective method in combating the breaching of any Health and Safety rules; strict liability may allow enforcement agencies to 'Strengthen their position' (Roe, p.211.1)

  1. The Age Of Criminal Responsibility

    A case that is almost always brought up in current times when talking about the age of criminal responsibility is that of James Bulger, just as it was above, who was murdered on February 12th 1993. Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, the ten year old boys who killed James, took

  2. Free essay

    Explain how the narrow rule stated in Donoghue v Stevenson has been developed.

    Case Daniels v R White27 contradicts Grant's res ipsa loguitor approach stating that it is possible for a manufacturer to prove that process of manufacturing has been performed with the best possible quality and is the best in trade so that no liability can be recognized.

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