Legal Duty to Act

For the cases I've included, I've put in some pictures to explain the case rather than write a huge description on each. If you want to find out information about the cases, please refer to my revision notes entitled 'Principles of Criminal Liability Cases' :) Click HERE to be linked straight to them. (They'll pop up in a new window!)

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LEGAL DUTY TO ACT
Comes from the civil law in Donoghue v Stevenson
The criminal courts have identified five situations that impose a
duty on the defendant to act. If he doesn't, this could lead to
prosecution.
DUTY ARISING FROM SPECIFIC RELATIONSHIPS
E.g. parents/guardians have a duty to care for their children.
This has been confirmed by
Statute ­ s.1 Child & Young Persons Act 1933
The courts ­ R v Gibbons & Proctor
DUTY ARISING FROM CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS
If the defendant is under a contractual duty to act (normally
because of their job) and they fail to do so, they may be liable if
lives of others are likely to become endangered as a result.
E.g. lifeguards
R v Pittwood

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DUTY ARISING FROM A PUBLIC OFFICE
A person may incur criminal liability through failure to fulfil his or
her official duties.
R v Dytham
VOLUNTARY ASSUMPTION OF DUTY
If you voluntarily accept responsibility for another, you may be
imposed with a duty to act with regard to that person's welfare.…read more

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As well as the courts, Parliament has created some statutory
situations that impose a duty on the defendant to act.
s. 170 Road Traffic Act 1988
It is an offence for a driver
involved in a road traffic accident to fail
to report the accident to the police.
h
s. 1 Child & Young Persons Act 1933
A parent or guardian can be prosecuted for failure to
look after their child.
s.…read more

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