Criminal Law Tutorials Resource Page
(last updated 2012)

Dr. Maris Köpcke Tinturé, Worcester College, University of Oxford

Disclaimer: these notes, outlines and answers to common questions are provided as rough guidelines only. They may be helpful to fill gaps, clarify misunderstandings and understand the 'big picture' of certain topics. The information on this page is not exhaustive: it does not get anywhere near covering all you need to know in this subject. There is also no guarantee that the information is wholly accurate: it is an informal resource page, and mistakes may have creeped in (let me know if you spot one).
Remember there are also the lecture handouts available through Weblearn.

This page is intended for my students only.

Actus Reus and Mens Rea

Omissions and Causation outline
Mens Rea
Principle of Correspondence


What was the old law on provocation?
What can be plead by someone suffering from battered women's syndrome?
What are the elements of constructive manslaughter?
What are the elements of gross negligence manslaughter?

Non-fatal non-sexual offences against the person

Outline (including problem about means)
Ladder of OAP

What if V consents to battery, but ABH results? Does the consent negate D’s liability?

Sexual offences

Michelle Dempsey's powerpoint (adapted by Herring, 2010 version)
When is touching 'sexual'? Dempsey's decision tree

Property offences

Appropriation: physical act requirement (Briggs), and bank transfers


Rebecca Williams' handout

Inchoate offences

My lecture powerpoint


Decision tree
Basic/specific intent classification


Intersection between Automatism, Insanity and Intoxication

Other Revision

Tips for horizontal thinking: connecting different topics

Other lecture handouts on Weblearn
OXAM - past exam papers
Mods Examiners Reports: 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

Problem question practice


What was the old law on provocation?

Old law on provocation:
  1. loss of self-control: consider rasonable man, of D's sex and age (Camplin, Holley)
  2. gravity/sting of the provocation: consider any characteristic of D, even disreputable ones (eg Morhall, who was a glue-sniffer and was mocked about being a glue-sniffer)

What can be plead by someone suffering from battered women's syndrome?

BWS is a medically recognized condition, but doesn't amount to insanity. It's probably a borderline case of a medically recognized condition. (And attitudes take a while to radically change.)

Under the old law of diminished resp., it wasn't necessary to prove a medically recognised condition, but it is necessary to do so under the new law. In theory, this doesn't affect BWS, since it is a medically recognized condition. However, in practice, given the new law on loss of SC (which in many ways is more accessible to women suffering from BWS than the old law on provocation), the most obvious option for women with BWS will be loss of SC.

What are the elements of constructive manslaughter?

Constructive manslaughter (AGR 3/1994):

  1. Unlawful act (=criminal offence, with its own AR+MR; but not a negligence or strict liability offence - Andrews)
  2. Dangerous: = likely to cause some harm to somebody (Church): objective test, but note the cases that qualify the objectivity of the test (Watson, Dawson: reasonable person at the scene, so not 100% objective; but Ball: D can't rely on unreasonable mistake) -> in short: likely to cause some harm to s.b. according to what D could and should have known
  3. Caused V's death

There is no other requirement. In particular, there is no extra MR requirement. There is a MR, of course, which is the one of the criminal offence under (1). But no extra MR (that's why it is sometimes said that, in constructive ms, the consequence of death is a strict liability element).
Note, however, what is said in Newbury: that D had to 'intend to do what he did'. Does this suggest that only intention, not recklessness, will do for the MR of the offence in (1)?

Please don't break down this offence into AR and MR; just follow these 3 elements.

What are the elements of gross negligence manslaughter?

Elements of gross negligence manslaughter (Adomako):
  1. Duty of care (rules as in negligence tort) (Willoughby: for the jury to decide always; Evans: for the jury to decide only if it's in dispute)
  2. Breach of the duty of care: standard expected of a reasonable person, with the skill of D (as in Adomako): so, objective test.
  3. Causation: did the breach of the DOC cause the death? Note: it must be the negligence that caused the death; if the death would have occurred anyway (=even if D had acted reasonably), no liability.
  4. Gross: was the breach so bad as to deserve criminal liability (stigma)?
Note, incidentally, that this means that gross negligence ms doesn't require subjective MR - it may well be that D wasn't aware of the risk (because 2) is objective). However, if D was subjectively aware of the risk, it's likely to weigh with the jury when they're deciding whether the breach was so gross as to deserve criminal liability (under 4)).
Note also: Both Adomako and Misra stress that there must be a risk of death, nothing less. To me, this isn't included in the 4 elements. I'd regard it as an additional element.

Please don't break down this offence into AR and MR; just follow these 4 elements.

What if V consents to battery, but ABH results? Does the consent negate D’s liability?

Consider this scenario: D and V agree that D will touch V; however, D’s touching accidentally causes ABH to V. Can V’s consent to battery negate D’s liability for the unexpected ABH?

The law is unclear. On the one hand, V’s consent negates liability for battery. On the other hand, consent doesn’t negate liability for ABH (unless the case falls into an exceptional category).

3 possible answers can be envisaged at the moment (see further Herring p. 378 of the 2010 ed.):

  1. D is always liable. V's consent to battery is irrelevant, because what was caused is ABH, and consent is not a defence to ABH, regardless of D’s MR.
  2. D is only liable if he foresaw the ABH. In other words: consent to battery ‘helps’ the defendant who didn’t foresee ABH.
  3. D is only liable if ABH was reasonably foreseeable (objective test). In other words: consent to battery ‘helps’ D when the ABH was not reasonably foreseeably.

While we await an authoritative ruling, (b) seems most adequate, don’t you think?

Note: imagine a problem question scenario where V consents to battery (sex) but ABH results, and it is not clear from the facts whether or not V consented to ABH (say, they agreed to have rough sex but none of them anticipated bruises). You can distinguish two possibilities:
  1. V consented to ABH:
    1. you can consider whether the activity falls under any of the exceptional categories where consent to ABH or worse is a defence (eg is it more like Brown or like Wilson?)
    2. you probably cannot apply Slingby, because if V consented that usually means D knew V consented and so D foresaw the harm
  2. V did not consent to ABH:
    1. you cannot consider exceptional categories (for there's no consent!)
    2. you can try to apply Slingsby (if D didn't foresee the harm)

Appropriation: physical act requirement (Briggs), and bank transfers

Bank transfers and appropriation:

There are always two steps: 'debit of V' - 'credit of D'

  1. 'Credit of D' can never amount to appropriation because the credit is a new 'thing in action', hence it never belonged to another (Preddy)

  2. 'Debit of V':

A note regarding 'physical act' requirement (Briggs) and intangible property: physical act doesn't mean 'touching'.  For else no intangible property (s3(1)) could ever be appropriated. It means 'assuming the rights of an owner' with relation to the property. In Briggs, D induced V to pay money directly into the builders' b/a, so D didn't assume the rights of an owner with respect to the money (as she would have had she directly instructed the bank to make the transfer) (and moreover she didn't receive it herself, but it went straight to the builders' b/a).