Factual Causation

  • Causation is proved using a two part test
  • The first part is Factual Causation, proved using the 'but for' test
  • White (1910) it could not be said that but for D poisoning his mothers milk, she would not have died, because she had a heart attack before she drunk the milk; therefore D is not the factual cause of her death and causation is not proved. 
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Legal Causation

  • The second part of the test is legal causation
  • 'D's conduct must be more than a minimal cause of the consequence (Kimsey), 'and he must contribute significantly to it (Pagett).''
  • Any break in the chain by a NIA means D's blame ends
  • NIA can include - poor medical treatment, V's actions in escaping, V's bad health/self neglect, an actions of a 3rd party and an event (an act of god).
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Poor medical treatment - NIA

  • the poor medical treatment must be so independent of D's act and ''in itself so potent in causing the consequence.''
  • Jordan (1956) 'palpably wrong treatment' V was stabbed, before he was discharged the hospital gave him the wrong medicine which put fluid on his lungs, V died. The chain was broken as his wound was merely part of history and the medicine killed him not his wound.
  • Smith (1959) {punctured lung} medics did not realise how bad V's injuries were, they dropped him a few times on their way to the clinic, he died. The wound is what killed him not the poor medical treatment so chain is not broken.
  • Cheshire (1991) the courts said only in extraordinary circumstances will poor medical treatment break the chain of causation, Doctors are only trying to fix the mess that somebody else made.
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V's actions in escaping - NIA

  • Daftness test - if it is foreseeable that V could behave in this was and reasonable then D is liable and the chain is not broken.
  • To break the chain V's act must be unforeseeable and unreasonable
  • Roberts (1971); it was foreseeable and reasonable for V to jump from a moving vehicle when D was making sexual advances towards her, chain not broken and D is liable
  • Williams & Davis (1992); it was unforeseeable and unreasonable for V to jump from a moving vehicle when the passangers were trying to take £5 from him, chain broken, D not liable.
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V's self neglect/bad health - NIA

  • If V has a mental/physical condition or a belief that makes them more liable to harm, the D remains liable for the consequence of their actions.
  • Dear (1996) {severed artery}; V ***** D's daughter, D attacked V stabbing him, in hospital V unpicked his stitches and he died, the chain was not broken and D was liable.
  • Blaue (1975) a jehovah witness refused a life saving blood transfusion after being stabbed, because of her beliefs, she died, the chain was not broken; so D still liable.
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