criminal law Lecture Notes

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Development of Gross Negligence Manslaughter Cases

R v Bateman (1925) 19 Cr App R 8 A doctors patient died during labour. Gross negligence was recognised as the test for manslaughter by the Court of Appeal. The prosecution had to prove that:

A owed a duty to B to take care, that that duty was not discharged, that the default caused the death of B and that As negligence amounted to a crime [I]n order to establish criminal liability the facts must be such that, in the opinion of the jury, the negligence of the accused went beyond a mere matter of compensation between subjects and showed such disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime against the state and conduct deserving of punishment.

Prior to the House of Lords decision in Seymour (1983) there was authority that it was manslaughter to kill another with the appropriate degree of subjective recklessness: Pike [1961] Crim LR 547, CCA; Gray v Barr [1971] 2 All ER 949 at 961, per Salmon LJ; Stone and Dobinson [1977] QB 354, [1977] 2 All ER 341, CA.

- Richard Card, Card, Cross and Jones: Criminal Law, 1995, pp227-228.

Kong Chuek Kwan v R (1985) 82 Cr App R 18 The Privy Council applied the new form of reckless manslaughter to a case involving a collision between two hydrofoils in Hong Kong harbour. It was held that the direction suggested in R v Lawrence, upheld in R v Seymour, applied in the present case. The Privy Council stated that this was a comprehensive test for the purposes of all involuntary manslaughter which did not fall under the heading of constructive manslaughter.

R v Lidar CA 11/11/99 The defendant had an argument with the victim, who was half leaning into the defendants car, and drove off. The victim was crushed by the rear wheel. The defendant was convicted of manslaughter. The Court of Appeal held that in order to be liable, the defendant must have (a) foreseen a risk of serious injury or death occurring, and (b) assessed that risk as at least highly probable to occur.