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factual causation is determined by the 'but for' test. Would the victim have been injured but for the actions of the defendant?

An example of this is in R V PAGETT where the defendant had used this girlfriend as a human shield against police bullets. If if wasn't for this, then she wouldn't have been killed therefore the defendant is liable for her death.

This is compared with R V WHITE where the defendant had put poison in his mothers tea with the intention to kill her. She died from a heart attack not resulting from the poisonous tea therefore the defendant isn't liable as it wasn't the tea that killed her.


legal causation is when the defendants act is the operating and substantial cause which must make a significant contribution. The act of defendant mustn't have any intervening acts which may break the chain of causation. An example of operating and substantial cause is in the case of R V SMITH where two soldiers had a fight resulting in one of them being stabbed in the lung. The soldier was carried to the medical centre in which he was dropped on the way. Medical staff gave him artificial respiration which made the victims wounds worse resulting in his death but the defendant was…


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