Model Exam Question Answers LAW 02

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Explain the meaning of the term 'causation' ( 7 MARKS)

In order to prove the defendant committed a crime, we must show that it as the act of the defendant that caused the injury to the victim and not any other cause. There must be a direct link from the defendant's conduct to the consequence for the victim. This is the chain of causation. To establish the chain of causation, we used the BUT FOR principle. For example. But for the defendant hitting the victim over the head many times, the victim would not have suffered a broken skull. The chain of causation can be broken by a new intervening act, whether this is an act or an omission. The intervening act must be sufficiently independent from the defendant's actions and must be sufficient to cause the victims injury. The chain of causation can be broken by: an act of a third party, the victim's own act or a natural but unpredictable event. Medical treatment can break the chain if it is so independent of the defendant's acts and 'in itself so potent in causing death' that the defendant's acts are insignificant. This is illustrated in the case of Jordan (1991) where the defendant had been stabbed in the stomach. He was treated in hospital and the wound was healing well. However, he died from an allergic reaction to a wrongly-given antibiotic. The actions of the doctor were held to be the substantial, operating cause of the victims death and Jordan was not guilty of murder as the chain of causation was broken. In the medical cases of Smith (1959) and Cheshire (1991) the chain was not broken and therefore the defendants were guilty in both cases. The victims own act can also break the chain of causation. If the defendant causes the victim to react in a foreseeable way, then any injury to the victim will have been caused by the defendant. As shown in the case of Roberts (1971) where a girl jumped from a car in order to escape sexual advances. The car was traveling at about 30mph and the girl was injured through jumping from the car. The defendant was held liable for her injures. However, if the victim's reaction is unreasonable, then this may break the chain of causation, as shown in Williams (1992).

Explain the meaning of the 'contemporaneity rule' (7 MARKS)

In order for an offence to take place, both the actus reus and mens rea must be present at the same time (unless it is a strict liability offence). In most cases, the defendant forms the guilty intention, then more or less immediately commits the guilty act, and the victim is injured or killed. The general principle is that the actus reus and the mens rea of a crime must occur at the same time. In other words, they must coincide, this is known as the contemporaneity rule. This is illustrated in the case of Fagan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (1968).




very good answers, but i'm not sure I could remember and write those longer ones in 7 minutes.



Very usefl. Thanks.

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