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Criminal Law Book


Criminal law protects society’s interpretation of right and wrong and deems these acts/ crimes as unlawful which are created to protect the society as a whole, individual interests and certain property rights. Any crime is regarded as a ‘public wrong’ and the Crown is charged with the responsibility of protecting the moral foundation of the society.


Criminal law is one of the seven core disciplines that the Law Society and Bar Council consider necessary for a qualifying law degree. Criminal law is also the bedrock upon which law and order are built. As a law student, passing this topic is critical because you will need this knowledge to defend persons facing the loss of their liberty as a professional criminal lawyer. Additionally, Criminal Law serves as a foundation for other disciplines and is required in order to study subjects such as Public and Administrative, Constitutional, Jurisprudence, legal theory, Human Rights, EU, and International law. Other more specialised areas include Corporate Homicide, Criminal Litigation, and Sentencing and Punishment Law. The issue that many law students have when studying Criminal Law is a lack of knowledge. There is so much reading to be done and so little time. If you exclude any content or a case, you get no knowledge.

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General Principle: The jury is not entitled to find the necessary intention unless death or serious bodily harm was an obvious conclusion to the defendant’s act.

R v Woollin [1998] 4 All ER 103, HL

Facts: A man lost his temper with his three-month-old son and threw the child onto a hard surface, causing head injuries from which the child died. The Defendant was charged with murder and the judge directed the jury, largely in accordance with the Nedrick guidelines, that they might infer the necessary intention if they were satisfied that the Defendant realised there was "a substantial risk" of serious injury.


Ratio: The House of Lords said this would enlarge the scope of murder and blur the distinction between that and manslaughter. The jury, said Lord Steyn, should be directed that they are not entitled to find the necessary intention unless they feel sure that death or serious bodily harm was a virtual certainty - barring some unforeseen intervention - as a result of the defendant's actions, and that the defendant realised such was the case, but should be reminded that the decision is one for them on a consideration of all the evidence.


Application: The House of Lords accepted the appeal of the Defendant. The Courts, by leaving the direction on oblique intention in the negative and thus giving juries some leeway to avoid convicting, have allowed juries to make moral judgments in appropriate circumstances