Law Fault

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Fault

Under the English law individual liability is based liability on the concept of blameworthiness. The oxford English dictionary defines fault as ‘responsibly or blame for an offence or misdeed’ it is not considered appropriate to subject someone to civil or criminal sanctions unless it can be proved that he or she performed on illegal at in a blameworthy manner. Blame does not normally attach in civil law if the injury occurs accidently or in criminal law or the crime occurs through in honest mistake or where the defendant (through insanity or automatism) cannot be held responsible for his or her actions in criminal law to be found guilty of most criminal offences, an actus rea and mens rea must be present. The actus reus is the physical element to an offence, to prove fault the defendant must commit the actus rea in a voluntary manner. If the defendant is not in control of his body for example in Hill v Baxter where the judge stated if the driver was attacked by a swarm of bees and he has a sneezing fit he will be available to use the defence of automatism. Automatism arises when someone suffers a ‘complete loss of voluntary control as stated in Bratty v AG for Northern Ireland. This must be due to an external factor. In such situation he will not be at fault and the law will not blame his or her conduct. Also to prove fault there is the coincidence rule where the actus rea and mens rea must coincide, the court have adapted a flexible approach in order to find fault and attach responsibility in the intent of justice even where strictly speaking the actus rea and mens rea don’t coincide this is seen in the case of Church. Also a chain in the causation must exist in result crimes between the defendants conduct and the consequences. The defendant must be both the factual and legal came of the result to be at fault. The defendant is the factual cause based on the ‘but for’ test as shown in R v Pagett. The defendant fault is that the result would not have happened but for his acts. If the chain of causation is broken then the defendant will not be liable, since he is not to blame and his acts did not make a ‘significant contribution’ to the result This requirement, that the defendant is the cause of the outcome limits liability, therefore the defendant will only be liable where he is at fault. In R v Jordan the medical treatment given to the victim was palpably wrong and would have ‘precluded’ a jury from holding that death was caused by the defendant actions. Whereas in the case of R v Smith the treatment the victim was given was thoroughly bad and might have affected his chances of recovery but the medical treatment correct or not break the chain of causation. Also in the English law there is a general rule that an omission (failure to act) does not give rise to criminal liability e.g. faults is not assumed merely because you walk on by. The law only makes a person liable for his failure to act when you are under a duty to act either because an act of parliament requires you to do so e.g. the children and young person act 1933 S1 (2), (where you are under a duty to look after your child) or a common law duty requires you to do so, such as where a person voluntarily takes on a duty e.g. Stone and Dobinson and Miller where the defendant was held to have a duty to remedy a dangerous situation he created, even where it was innocently done. The defendant degree of fault is expressed through the concept of mens rea. The type of mens rea which is the mostly blameworthy and where the defendant is most at fault is direct intention. Where the defendant has the direct intentions have done everything in his power. Intention is the defendant degree of fault is expressed through the different levels of mens rea. Intention is the most blameworthy mens rea, (this can be direct intention where the purpose of the accused is to bring about the illegal consequence where the purpose of the accused is to bring about the illegal...
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