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R v Bateman 19 Cr App R 8

A doctor was convicted of manslaughter arising out of his treatment of a woman in childbirth. Lord Hewitt CJ gave the following guidance in relation to gross negligence manslaughter:

"If A has caused the death of B by alleged negligence, then, in order to establish civil liability, the plaintiff must prove (in addition to pecuniary loss caused by the death) that A owed a duty to B to take care, that that duty was not discharged, and that the default caused the death of B. To convict A of manslaughter, the prosecution must prove the three things above mentioned and must satisfy the jury, in addition, that A's negligence amounted to a crime. In the civil action, if it is proved that A fell short of the standard of reasonable care required by law, it matters not how far he fell short of that standard. The extent of his liability depends not on the degree of negligence but on the amount of damage done. In a criminal court, on the contrary, the amount and degree of negligence are the determining question. There must be mens rea."

In order to establish criminal liability the facts must be such that in the opinion of the jury the negligence of the accused went beyond a mere matter of compensation between subjects and showed such disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime against the State and conduct deserving punishment."
Back to lecture outline on gross negligence manslaughter