omissions law

Topics: Law, Legal terms, Manslaughter in English law Pages: 3 (1195 words) Published: October 7, 2013
The current law states that an omission cannot make a person guilty of an offence, as Stephen J, a 19th century judge stated ‘A sees B drowning and is able to save him by holding out his hand. A abstains from doing so in order than B may be drowned. A has committed no offence’. However there are six exceptions to the rule, if there is a duty to act. The first exception would be a statutory duty; this means that some statutes create situations whereby an omission will give rise to criminal liability. A prime example of statutory duty is S5 Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004- where a person in the same household fails to take such steps as he/she reasonably could have been expected to take to protect the victim. Another example would be the Road Traffic Act 1988- where it states the failure to provide a specimen of breath and failure to report a road traffic accident. Another exception is where a duty is owed under a contract of employment if not doing so is likely to endanger lives, e.g. doctors, lifeguards. A case example of this exception would be R v Pit wood where a railway worker was employed to operate a level crossing, failure to comply with his contractual duty and negligently leaving a gate open resulted in a death of a man and another seriously injured. The defendant was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter after all he breached the duty of care that he had. The defendant did have the actus reus of the crime as his failure to operate the level crossing resulted in the death and serious injuries of the victims. The positive aspect of having an exception of contractual duty is that it is not narrow; it is clear what is expected of that exception. Furthermore a duty of care is owed also when a duty is taken on voluntary. The case Evans 2009 where mother and daughter were convicted of gross negligence manslaughter after they both neglected V a 16 year old heroin addict, who self injected and clearly had an overdose, this being obvious...
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