Actus Reus II - Causation Summary

Causation: General Principles

  •      When assessing liability for a result crime, it is necessary to show that the result was caused by the defendant’s (D’s) conduct or omission.


  •      There can be no conviction if the link between D’s conduct or omission cannot be proved beyond reasonable doubt.


A two-stage process:

  •      Factual Causation


Did D’s conduct or omission in fact cause the result?


  •      Legal Causation


Was D’s conduct a substantial; blameworthy and operating cause?



Legal Cause must be ‘operative’

  •      D’s conduct must still be a significant cause of the result as the time it comes about.
  •      The chain of causation between conduct and result elements must not be broken.


Break the chain of causation

  • Intervention from D
  • Intervention from natural acts (‘acts of God’)
  • Intervention from V
  • Intervention from third parties


Relevant case law:

R v White [1910] 2 KB 124


R v Benge (1846) 4 F. & F 504


Dalloway (1847) 2 Cox CC 273


R v Kennedy (no.2) (2007) UKHL 38


R v Blaue (1975) 1 WLR 1411


R v Jordan [1956] 40 Cr App R 152


R v Cheshire [1991] 1 WLR 844