For many crimes, a central aspect of the offence is that the defendant caused a particular harm. Hence in murder the prosecution must prove that the defendant caused the death of the victim. In many cases, this question of causation creates no real problems. If the defendant stabs the victim and the victim drops down dead, even Rumpole of the Bailey would face an uphill task in persuading the jury to doubt for a moment that the defendant caused the victim’s death. In other cases, however, the issue is far from straight-forward. In this chapter we shall consider three categories of cases where the approach of the law has proved controversial and over which there has been considerable debate.
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