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Samaritan Law - Uk

In: Social Issues

Submitted By Iles94
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A Good Samaritan law is a law which compels a person to act for another if they are ill, in harm or other peril. The UK is one of the few European countries that have not criminalised failure to act, but instead the courts and some statutes have provided situations whereby liability will be imposed for a failure to act, or an ‘omission’. This assignment will discuss these circumstances and analyse why they exist. The law of England and Wales states that for someone to be found guilty of an offence there are two elements which must be found; these are actus reus and mens rea. Actus reus is a criminal act, and coupled with mens rea, ‘the guilty mind’, liability can often be imposed. However actus reus, deceivingly, does not have to be an ‘act’. There are certain circumstances where a failure to act, or an ‘omission’, is enough to place criminal liability.

The general rule in English criminal law is that an omission will not result in criminal liability, for example if a by-passer witnesses someone being stabbed, but does not intervene, then the victim dies, they will not be liable, even though they may have reasonably been able to help. This is because there is no ‘constructed situation’ where it says there is a duty to act. However, there are certain situations where liability will be found, because it is expressed in statute, this is called direct liability; where a statute specifically states that there is a duty to act; for example the Road Traffic Act 1988 s.6 which provides that a motorist upon request of a uniformed constable provides a specimen of their breath. There is also a form of liability called ‘derivative liability’ a form which usually exists where a person is in a ‘special position’; for example a police officer who fails to intervene in a situation where the public would be put at danger, were he not to act.

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