Discuss the Extent to Which the Rules on Causation Need to Be Reformed

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Where a consequence must be proved then the prosecution has to show that the defendant’s conduct was the factual cause of that consequence, the legal cause of that consequence and that there was no intervening act which broke the chain of causation. Factual causation is established by applying the 'but for' test. This asks 'but for the actions of the defendant, would the consequence have occurred?' and if the answer is no and the consequence would not have occurred then the defendant is liable as it can be said that their action was a factual cause of the consequence. In order for legal causation to be established the question to be asked is whether it is fair to attribute blame to the defendant, if the jury believe the defendant can be blamed for the consequence then he is also the legal cause of the consequence. There must also be a direct link from the defendant’s conduct to the consequence; this is known as the chain of causation and so therefore in order for the defendant to be guilty of the consequence then there cannot be any major intervening acts. Intervening acts can include the actions of a third party, the victim’s own act or a natural but unpredictable event. Naturally there are issues with the rules on causation which I will discuss in detail in the remainder of this essay, the first issue comes with defining what is meant by more than a ‘slight or trifling’ link as this is a very vague phrase it can be difficult for juries to understand and so therefore may be misused. The second issue involves the thin skull rule which involves the defendant having to take the victim as he finds him which can be seen as unfair. Other issues include the victim refusing medical treatment, medical negligent treatment and the daftness test which has been criticised for being too subjective. Under factual causation the defendant can only be guilty if the consequence
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