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Liability for Manslaughter by Omission: Don't Let the Baby Drown!

Elliott, C. (2010). Liability for Manslaughter by Omission: Don't Let the Baby Drown!. The Journal of Criminal Law, 74(2), pp. 163-179. doi: 10.1350/jcla.2010.74.2.627


By removing the common law rules on a duty to act from liability for manslaughter by omission, the law would more accurately reflect the intention of the House of Lords in R v Adomako (1995). The current duplicitous requirement of both a duty to act and a duty of care appears to be confusing both the trial judge and the jury. The causing of a harm by an omission does not automatically mean the conduct was less morally reprehensible than where harm is caused by an act and this reform would therefore potentially bring the law more closely into line with society's moral values. The law would be rendered clearer and simpler and injustices would be avoided due to the other requirements of the Law Commission's proposed offence of killing by gross carelessness, including causation and gross carelessness. Through this reform justice could at last be offered should a stranger choose to walk by a drowning baby.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2010
Publisher Keywords: Manslaughter; Omission; Gross negligence; Duty of care; Duty to act; Homicide
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
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