Fault liablility

Suggested notes/plan for fault liability AQA A2 unit 4C


meaning of fault

  • General presumption: "no liablility" without proof of fault
  • blame or responsibility for something done wrong
  • someone not to blame > not liable (civil law), not guilty (criminal law)
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relationship between law and morality - AR

  • Involuntary act (Hill v Baxter)
  • Omission only liable if duty to act (Pitwood)
  • must be factual link between act/omission and end result > missing break in chain R.v Williams and Davis (remove fault lead to acquital)
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relationship between fault and liability (MR)

  • all serious crimes require state of mind > absence complete defence?
  • types of MR relate to seriousness> intention R v. Woolin, less serious crimes (recklessness) R v. Savage. intention more blameworthy than recklessness
  • categorising crimes: murder more serious than manslaughter (requirment of intent)
  • Rv Mandair someone can be conicted of a "lesser" offence (s20) when conicted of s18
  • s20 ^ s47 (greater leel of harm - actual rather than grevious - Chan Fook
  • state of mind/level of harm - reflect fault/blame - GBH more than ABH
  • sentencing: mandatory life sentence (murder) > Home Secretary can fix tariffs (show leel of fault) - aggravating and mitigating factors (Ruby)
  • Defences: automatism (Burns v Biddler), consent (R v. Slingsbury), others/mistake (R v. Williams) > complete defences so will be acquited. Partial defence (fault removed through DR guilty lesser offence > murder > manslaughter (Ahluwalia), specific intent crime: proof of voluntary intoxication remove ability of MR alterante recklessness (Lipman)
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weak relationship - criminal law

  • Strict liability: contary to no liablility without presumption of fault, lack of MR of defence > defence can be commited by just AR, mantain highstanding and public safety e.g. speeding, will be at fault even if did not forsee effects (Smedly v Breed)
  • Thin skull rule: may be liable for unforseeable injuries (Ruby) > physical weakness punish D for suffering not entirely his fault. AR outweigh MR
  • Transferred malice (Latimer) > convicted of act against B even if only intend to hurt A (someone at fault in realtion to unintended victim despite haing no MR against this person)
  • legal causation (significant contribution test) : Chesire > partly blame but can be fault of others > person who made significant contribution could be only one convicted?
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relationship between fault and liability civil law

  • negligence: exlplain principles. duty of care to exist need no fault but breach below "standard of reasonabless" > fault, Bolton V Stone (absense of fault = no breach), resulting damage (causation) > fault, Wagon Mound principles (remotness of damage - L. causation - liable for X not Y
  • Occupiers liablity - acts 1957 and 1984 - British railways v Herrington (1972) - standard of care to trespasser less than lawful visitor normally reasonable efforts to keep them out but if they know that trespasser in imminent peril, ordinary humanity require further steps
  • statutary torts: Consumer porotection Act 1957 and Animals Act 1971 (largely no fault approach)
  • semi-strict liablility torts: Rylands v Feletcher - not concerned with blmae but as regards escape > only lianle for damage that is REASONABLY forseeable + specific defences = fault element
  • vicarious liabiliity > employers liability for torts commited by employees > unreliant on proof of fault. D may be liable eben if take all reasonable steps. requirments: actual employee, on independant contractor and acting in "course of his employment"
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Should fault be an essential part of English law?

  • advantages of strict liability
  • many such offences realte to business's - if run properly no AR
  • take risk to make profit ought to be liable if risk causes problema to others?
  • certain activities prohbited for public good > so long as penalty not severe > interests of public should outweigh conviction of those not morally at fault
  • impossible for guilt coniction if have to prove knowledge (esp company)
  • low fault approach: tort: those who choose potentially harmful activities can easier ensure liablility against 3rd parties than individuals - unknown risk!!!
  • assit injured party - no need to prove fault
  • Strict liabilty outcome more predictable > reduce liklihood of dealys and legal coststhrough ptotracted litigation
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disadvantages of strict liability approach

  • wrong to punish someone not morally to blame esp when reasonable care
  • serve no useful point as can not change conduct
  • difficulty in proving knowledge > circumvented by reersing burden of proof e.g. onus on D to prove a defence rather than P to disprove it
  • does not raise standards
  • fault based liability tort: injuries - vicissitudes of life? > should not look for blame?
  • no moral justification
  • does not promote safter society as D who has been carefull can not alter their conduct
  • knowlege?! = reverese burden of proos and extend res ipsa loquitar (facts speak for themselves)
  • compensating bictims overiding objective - fairer compensation public fund which all tax payers contribute to
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conclusion - extent of relationship?

  • close relationship > every element criminal law aspect of fault and even strict liability offences contain aspect (D commited guilty act) - examples
  • few exceptions civil - vicarious liability
  • courts view = Sweet v Parsely - if parliament want to to oppose strict liability must be VERY clear. absense of direction from Parliament: Courts will always look for proos of fault AR and MR > fault very important in finding guilt in criminal law
  • strict liabilty more justification in Civil Law > usually only money at risk not personal reputation, liberty, livlihood so could argue civil law less dependant on proof of fault.
  • despite potential unfairness = can achieve great public benefit e.g. in pollution matters
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Cogito ergo sum


What does AR and MR stand for ?

chloe mckenna


AR = actus reus

MR = mens rea

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