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Provides a link between the initial act of the D and the prohibited consequence that has occurred. It forms part of the AR: It is not enough that the prohibited consequences has occurred, it must be caused by the D. * Established by a two-stage test: 1. Factual causation: Only basis, establish a prelimartary connection between act and consequences D’s act must be a sine qua non of the prohibited consequence(consequences would not have occurred without the D’s action) ’But for’ the D’s action, the consequences would not have occurred Case: White :
D wanted to kill her mother with a poison drink but the mother die before the poison drink took effect. LP: The D’s mother would have died anyway but for D’s action, thus he is not the factual cause of death, but he is charged with attempted murder. 2. Legal causation: Chooses the blameworthy a. Case: Pagett To avoid arrest, D used his girlfriend as a shield and firmed at armed police. The police fired back and killed the girl.
LP: D’s act need not to be the sole cause of death provided it is a cause that has ‘contributed significantly to the result’ as he sets in motion the chain of events that led to death and it was foreseeable that the police would fire back. D is the most blameworthy Intervening Act: Something that occurs after the D’s act that breaks the chain of causation and relieves the D’s responsibility for the prohibited consequences. Circumstances will only break the chain of causation if they are: a) An overwhelming cause of death b) An unforeseeable occurrence Case that BREAK the chain:
Jordan: D stabbed the victim and his wound was healed by the time V arrived to the hospital but he died following an allergic reaction to the drugs given by the hospital. LP: D not liable as the original wound was healed and the treatment was ‘PALPABLY WRONG’ (Obvious) to break the chain of causation. Case that DOESN’T BREAK the chain: Cheshire: D shot the victim in the leg and stomach, where when in hospital V suffered from respiratory complications and die after an operation that the hospital performed a poor standard of care and failed to recognise his wounds.
LP: The need for operation flowed from the D’s original act thus he remained liable, the treatment has to be ‘PALPABLY WRONG’ (obvious) to break the chain of causation. Intervening Act falls into 3 categories: 1. Acts of the Victim 2. Acts of Third Parties 3. Naturally Occurring events 1. Acts of the Victim Roberts: D interfered the V’s clothing in the car, causing the V to jump from the moving vehicle and resulted in serious injuries from the fall.
LP: It was foreseeable that the victim would have attempted to escape and could be injured in doing so. Chain of causation will only be broken if the V’s action is extreme and unforeseeable. *Only EXTREME ACTS would break it? Consider Thin-Skull rule: *Thin-Skull Rule: EXCEPTION to the rule that D is only liable to the foreseeable consequences of his actions D is liable for the full extent of V’s injuries even if, due to some pre-exisitng condition, the V suffers greater harm as a result of the D’s action than the ‘ordinary’ V would suffer.
Cases: Blaue D stabbed the V and punctured her lung, but V refused a blood transfusion as it was contrary to her religion, resulting in death. LP: D convicted of manslaughter as it was held that the rule was not limited to physical conditions but included an individual’s psychological make-up and beliefs. 2. Act of Third Parties Consider: 1. Significance of their contribution 2. Action is foreseeable? 3. Naturally-occurring events * Omissions: Liability only necessary if there is no culpable positive act.
Statute: A duty of act only imposed by statute in a narrow range Contract: Case: Pittwood D contracted to monitor the crossing gates so no one is harmed by the train. He failed to close the gates and V was killed by the train. LP: A person under contract will be liable for the harmful consequences of his failure to perform his contractual obligation. This duty extends to those reasonably affected by omission, not just the other party to the contract. Special relationship Case: Gibbins and Procotor
First D(Father) failed to provide food to his child who was starved to death. His liability was based upon his omission to fulfil the duty established by the special relationship of father/child. (The case continued:) Voluntary assumption of care Second D(Partner of the father): liable not based on the nature of relationship but because she had previously fed the child but had ceased to do so. * A Person cannot cast off duty to act that the voluntary assumption of care imposes.
Dangerous situation Case: Miller D fell asleep while smoking a cigarette. It triggers the mat on fire, but when the D woke up he did nothing to save the fire but move to another spot to sleep. The House was damaged as a result. D argued that his mens rea was not developed at the time the actua reas of the event, dropping the cigarette, occurred. LP: D has created a dangerous situation which he then has the duty to save the fire. * MR arises and coincides with continuing AR. He was liable.