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   Case summaries      R v Williams 2011

R v Williams [2011] 1 WLR 588 Court of Appeal

The appellant was driving on a dual carriageway when a man stepped into the road right in front of him. He was unable to stop and the man was killed. The appellant was not speeding and had not in anyway been driving recklessly or without care. Two witnesses gave evidence that it would have been impossible to avoid hitting the man given the closeness to the car when he stepped out. However, at the time of incident, the appellant had no driving licence or insurance. He was convicted of causing death by driving without a licence under s.3ZB Road Traffic Act 1988. He appealed on two grounds:

1.      that the offence could not be committed without proof of fault in causing the death. His failure to have a licence and insurance was at fault but it wasn’t this that caused the death.

2.      Alternatively his driving, although a cause of death, was minimal in relation to the victim’s own action in causing death.


Appeal dismissed. His conviction was upheld. The offence was one of strict liability and therefore fault in causing death was not required. It was sufficient that his driving was a cause of death it need not be a substantial cause.
Back to lecture outline on strict liability
Back to lecture outline on causation in criminal law