Causation refers to whether the defendant's conduct caused the harm or damage in a crime and it must be established in all result crimes. Causation in criminal liability is divided into factual causation and legal causation. Factual causation is the starting point and consists of applying the 'but for' test. In most cases, factual causation alone will be enough to establish causation. However, in some circumstances it will also be necessary to consider legal causation. Legal causation is when the result must be caused by a culpable act, the act of the defendant may not necessarily need to be the only cause, but must be more than minimal. Factual causation is established by applying the 'but for' test. This asks, 'but for the actions of the defendant, would the result have occurred?' If the answer is yes, the result would have occurred in any circumstance and the defendant is not liable. If no the defendant is liable as it can be said that their action was a factual cause of the result.
An example of a case where this happened is R v white. In this case the defendant poisoned his mother by putting poison in her milk and she fell asleep and never woke up. She died from a heart attack and not the poison so he was not liable for murder but for attempt, the but for test was applied and it was found that the result would have occurred regardless of the defendants actions. Legal causation requires that the harm must result from a culpable act a case where the defendant could not be liable for this was in R v Dalloway where The defendant was driving a horse and cart down a road without holding on to the reins. A child ran in front of the cart and was killed. The defendant was not liable as he would not have been able to stop the cart in time even if he had been holding the reins.. Here the culpable act was not holding the reins, which was not the cause of death.
However , this does not apply where the