Gross Negligence Manslaughter by Omission: the emergence of a Good Samaritan law?

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    Abstract

    There has been much academic debate concerning criminal liability for omissions and the extent to which such liability should be extended. The focus here concerns a recent, unreported, conviction for gross negligence manslaughter which raises the question of how far the courts and the Crown Prosecution Service are willing to blur existing boundaries of omissions liability and the established principles of causation. By scrutinising the current legal duties to act required for such liability to arise in the context of R v Bowditch, it will be demonstrated that we are moving incrementally towards a Good Samaritan law but with an absence of fair warning to guide citizens. Further, it is apparent from this conviction that the restricted principles of causation that apply to actions are not as restrictive when applied to omissions. It is clearly timely for the Law Commission to act to determine appropriate boundaries so that omissions liability complies with the rule of law.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)127-137
    JournalThe Journal of Criminal Law
    Volume82
    Issue number2
    Early online date11 May 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 May 2018

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