Actus Reus

  • Created by: phoebs.b
  • Created on: 27-03-18 15:00

Duties may arise in the situations of;

  • Contract
    • R v Pittwood (1902) - the defendant worked as a level-crossing operator. He forgot to close the gate and the victim was killed by a train. The defendant's contractual duties were used to find a duty because his breach of contract endangered the public. 
  • Familial relationships
    • R v Gibbins and Proctor (1918) - the defendant's (the victim's father and stepmother) deliberately failed to feed the victim, who died. The defendants were both convicted of murder. The defendant owed the victim a duty as a parent, but the second defendant (the stepmother) also owed a duty as she has assumed de facto (meaning in reality or as good as) parental responsibility. 
  • Assumption of responsibility
    • Airedale NHS Trust v Bland (1993) - this civil case deals with complex issues about the duty of care owed by doctors to patients. Among other things, the case permits a doctor to stop caring for or treating a patient, where it is in the patients best interests. What is not decided in law is whether the duty arises simply by way of contract, a result of assumption of responsibility, or by the doctor's oath (the Hippocratic oath), or a combination. 
    • R v Stone and Dobinson (1977) - the first defendant (the victim's sister) and the second defendant (the first defendant's partner) were convicted of manslaughter. The defendants had failed to summon help for the victim, who had died whilst under their care. The victim had been anorexic, and had refused to eat. The Court of Appeal held there was a legal duty, not just because the victim was the first defendant's sister, but also because the victim had lived in the defendants' house, and they had voluntarily assumed a duty to act by their attempts to care for her. The decision is controversial, as the two defendants were found to have low capabilities; it appeared that they had enough difficulty looking after themselves effectively, let along being expected to offer a reasonable level of care to the victim. It is not clear what was crucial to the finding of a duty - was it the biological relationship, the undertaking of especial responsibility for the victim's welfare, or a combination of these two factors?
  • Danger, where the defendant is responsible for creating the danger
    • R v Miller (1983) - the defendant, a squatter, fell asleep smoking a cigarette. When he woke up, he realised a fire had started, but did not extinguish it or summon help. The House of Lords held that even where the original conduct was inadvertent, when the defendant subsequently became aware of the danger he had caused, he was under a duty to prevent or reduce the risk by his own efforts, or if necessary by summoning the fire brigade. 
    • R v Evans (2009) - the defendant gave her sister heroin. The sister self-administered it. The Court of Appeal held that a duty arose when the defendant realised that her sister had overdosed and did…


No comments have yet been made