brief summary of GNM

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  • Created on: 05-01-11 15:44
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Gross negligence combines criminal law and the tort law of negligence. For gross negligence
manslaughter there has to be a murder. Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being under the
Queen's Peace without malice aforethought. This definition is derived from Sir Edward Coke. An
unlawful killing is a killing that takes place outside of war time and causes a death of another. A
human being is anything that can exist independently of its mother. (AG Ref Number 2. of nineteen
ninety three). The Queen's peace is when the country is not at war. The lead case for gross
negligence manslaughter in Adomako, in which Lord Mckay gave analysis of the law saying, "The
ordinary principles of the law of negligence apply to ascertain whether if D gas breached his duty of
care towards the person who died" The idea of accepting the ordinary rules of negligence for gross
negligence was confirmed in Wacker, which also established that D can still have a duty of care if
taking part in criminal venture. The classic description of duty of care comes from Donoghue v
Stevenson, where Lord Atkin said "You should take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which
you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour." A duty of care is owed by D to
V, firstly if the death of V is reasonably foreseeable? Secondly, if there is proximity between D and V
and finally, if it is fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty of care on D.
We must also prove that D has breached his duty of care to V. This occurs if D's level of care falls
below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person in that situation. If D is a professional,
then he must show a level of care expected of a reasonably competent professional doing that job. A
learner must show the same level of care as that of a reasonable person. There must also be a
proven causal link between the breach of duty of care and the death.
The mens rea for gross negligence manslaughter is the proof that D has been grossly negligent
meaning that the offence becomes a crime. In Bateman, Lord Hewart CJ spoke of, "... in the opinion of
the jury, the negligence of the accused went beyond a mere matter of compensation... but showed a
blatant disregard for the life that amounts to a crime against the state...". More detailed evidence
comes from Singh, where it was asked, "... would a reasonably prudent person foresee not just the
risk of injury or serious injury, but of death from their actions?" In Prentice, the Court of Appeal gave
a number of examples which could give evidence of gross negligence manslaughter, including,
indifference to an obvious risk of injury to health, foresight of risk of death with determination to
take the chance, appreciation of risk coupled with intention to avoid it through serious negligence
and failure to recognise a serious risk that D's duty demands that he does not recognise.


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