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Criminal law governs crime which are basically offences against a state.

To be convicted of a crime, there must be proof beyond reasonable doubt that an act was done voluntarily and there was knowledge of the act causing the event. These two elements Actus Reus and Mens Rea respectively, constitutes to a crime. In the Empress Car Case, the details are outlined below: The company was convicted in a high court for allowing effluent from a drum collecting diesel to flow into a nearby river. On the companys compound, there was a diesel tank which was surrounded by a containement bund to negate spillage. However, the protection of the bund was overridden when modification to the tank was effected by the company which involved affixing an extension pipe directly to the tank in order to channel it to a drum outside the bund. They found it more convenient to extract the oil from the drum as opposed to the tank. The flow of oil to the drum was controlled by an unlocked/unsecure tap. Sometime on 20th March, 1995, the tap was opened unknowingly and caused the drum to overflow into the compound and subsequently into the river. They were convicted for causing poisonous, noxious or polluting matter or solid waste to enter controlled water named the River of Ebbw Fach against section 85 (1) of the Water Resources Act 1991. The company later appealed its conviction the the Lordships House (Privy Council). Lord Hoffman in his decision dismissed the appeal and upheld the decision by the high court to find that the company had caused the pollution. His decision was summarised into five statements :

(1) Justices dealing with prosecutions for "causing" pollution under section 85(1) should first require the prosecution to identify what it says the defendant did to cause the pollution. If the defendant cannot be said to have done anything at all, the prosecution must fail: the defendant may have "knowingly permitted" pollution but cannot have caused it. (2) The prosecution need not prove that the defendant did something which was the immediate cause of the pollution: maintaining tanks, lagoons or sewage systems full of noxious liquid is doing something, even if the immediate cause of the pollution was lack of maintenance, a natural event or the act of a third party. (3) When the prosecution has identified something which the defendant did, the justices must decide whether it caused the pollution. They should not be diverted by questions like "What was the cause of the pollution?" or "Did something else cause the pollution?" because to say that something else caused the pollution (like brambles clogging the pumps or vandalism by third parties) is not inconsistent with the defendant having caused it as well. (4) If the defendant did something which produced a situation in which the polluting matter could escape but a necessary condition of the actual escape which happened was also the act of a third party or a natural event, the justices should consider whether that act or event should be regarded as a normal fact of life or something extraordinary. If it was in the general run of things

a matter of ordinary occurrence, it will not negative the causal effect of the defendant's acts, even if it was not foreseeable that it would happen to that particular defendant or take that particular form. If it can be regarded as something extraordinary, it will be open to the justices to hold that the defendant did not cause the pollution. (5) The distinction between ordinary and extraordinary is one of fact and degree to which the justices must apply their common sense and knowledge of what happens in the area. These statements were governed or structured from the following principles in their entirety: 1. Acts and Ommission 2. Causation 3. Strict Liability Hence it was stated during the hearing that if the charge is causing, the prosecution must prove that the pollution was caused by something which the defendant did, rather than merely failed to prevent
This statement requires us to examine the above principles. Causation can be related to criminal law when ones action or non action results in a negative result and as a consequence affects society. We can examine causation by referring to the National Rivers Authority v Yorkshire Water Services Ltd [1995] case . The case saw the defendant (Yorkshire Water Services Ltd), who were responsible for collecting sewage, treating it ad discharging this treated liquid into the river. During the night, someone discharged iso-octonal into the sewer which subsequently drained into therover. They were thereby charged for pollution. This, even though they did not actually discharge the chemical into the sewers. This conviction was upheld on the grounds that the defendants were responsible for discharging treated sewage into the river. The introduction of iso-octanol into their sewers by an unknown party was not considered especially because no one was caught performing the act. The companys operations required them to ensure treated sewage was discharged into the river. Therefore once it can be proved that the polluting matter originated from its facility it can be said that they caused the pollution. Relating this to the Empress Car case, we have seen that it was the responsibility of the defendant to properly maintain the diesel tanks but for their failure to do so allowed for the entry of the oil into the river. The but for can be considered a starting point in any causation inquiry. In analyzing causation, for the purpose of holding someone responsible, we may also discuss delivberate human acts (third parties) and natural events. An example was drawn where a factory owner leaves a drum containing highly flammable vapour in a place where it can be ignited. Here, if a worker oblivious to the contents, throws a cigarette butt into the drum which created an explosion. The

owner acted carelessly leaving the drum outside and this caused the explosion. If lighteneing, being a natural event, struck the drum also causing an explosion, we can still say that the owner provided an avenue in order for the explosion to happen. The workers action and lightening were only coincendence. It was because of the owners action that the negative outcome was experienced. Deriving out of this, a question was raised as to what principle would some acts of third parties or natural events negative causal connection forthe purpose of section 85 (1) and others not? Lord Salmon suggested an answer in Alphacell Ltd v Wooward [1971], that the difference might depend upon whether the act of a third party or natural event was foreseeable or not. The idea of forseeability was in relation to negligence and is not relevant under Section 85(1) where liability is strict. This brings us to Strict Liability which is automatic responsibility (without having to prove
negligence) for damages due to possession and/or use of equipment, materials or possessions which are inherently dangerous such as explosives, wild animals, poisonous snakes, or assault weapons. This is analogous to the doctrine of "res ipsa loquitur in which control, ownership and damages are sufficient to hold the owner liable even without proof of specific negligent acts or omissions.

Strict liability is liability that does not depend on actual negligence or intent to harm, but that is based on the breach of a duty to make something safe. It usually applies to ultra-hazardous activities. To win a strict liability case, the prosecution must prove only causation and damages. Three activities associated with strict liability are:Dangerous Activities Strict liability applies to activities that are unreasonably dangerous. Activities are considered unreasonably dangerous when they involve a risk of harm even when reasonable precautions are taken. Although these activities may be socially useful or necessary, those who conduct them may be held strictly liable. Companies conducting dangerous activities know that they are strictly liable for the harm they cause. Animals The law traditionally has held owners responsible for any harm caused by their untamed animals. However, the situation differs for household pets. The defendant is held strictly liable only if he or she had reason to believe the pet was dangerous to others. Even when strict liability does not apply, the negligence standard still may be used to hold owners of household pets liable for the harm they cause. Defective Products Product liability is the legal responsibility of manufacturers for injuries caused by defective products. Strict liability for product manufacturers is meant to encourage manufacturers to design safe products, test them before placing them on the market, and provide clear directions and warning labels. The cost companies incur for product research, safety features, and insurance is usually passed on to the consumer in the form of higher product prices. Based on the above, we can determine that Empress Car company conducted dangerous activities.

As opposed to performing a positive act which in itself contributes to a negative outcome, if one fails to act or omits to ac, criminal liability may also be considered. An example of omission can be where a

police officer observes a patron at a club being evicted and assaulted by the bounces until he subsequently died. The officer takes no step to intervene. He therefore was charged with misconduct for omitting to execute his duties or exercise his responsibility. This non action was an action which leads to the death of the patron. We can also say that the officer but for his failure to maintain peace caused the death of the patron. In R v Miller, Lord Diplock raised the question of causation in the case where the defendant, who was a squatter , lit a cigarette as he fell asleep on a mattress. He awoke to find the mattress on fire but preceeded to another room to sleep. Here we have a positive act being done by the defendant and also a failure to prevent the negative outcome. Causation enters into both the prohibitions and the

requirements of a typical criminal code, for such statutes either prohibit citizens from causing certain results or require them to cause certain results. In either case causation is central to criminal liability Read more: Causation - Role Of Causation In The Criminal Law - Defendant, Act, Harm, Causal, Tort, and Moore - JRank Articles