Criminal Law Assessment

As part of the formal assessment for the programme, you are required to submit a Criminal Law assignment. Please refer to your Student Handbook for full details of the programme assessment scheme and general information on preparing and submitting assignments.

Learning Outcomes:

After completing this module, you should be able to:

  1. Understand the key legal principles underpinning aspects of criminal law, and their wider context.
  2. Analyse and evaluate liability in relation to criminal offences, and the related doctrines, tests and precedents.
  3. Identify and examine defences to liability for criminal offences, particularly the circumstances in which they may be used.
  4. Examine how the criminal law is evolving and the potential impact on determining liability.

Your assignment should include: a title page containing your student number, the module name, the submission deadline, and a word count; the appendices if relevant; and a reference list in OSCOLA format. You should address all the elements of the assignment task listed below. Please note that tutors will use the assessment criteria set out below in assessing your work.

Warning: QLD Regulations require that unfair practice findings are referred to the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and BSB (Bar Standards Board) and can prevent admission as a barrister or a solicitor. Take your referencing seriously. Do not risk your career. Maximum word count: 3,000 words Please note that exceeding the word count will result in a reduction in grade proportionate to the number of words used in excess of the permitted limit.


Assignment Task

This assignment consists of ONE question split into THREE parts, A, B and C. You must answer ALL THREE parts.

Read the scenario and then answer the questions below.


Jack, Hakim and Dan decide to visit their local pub. Once at the local pub, Dan buys all three individuals their drinks. Jack asks for a lager shandy (a beverage with low alcohol content) because he has work in the morning, and Hakim wants a non-alcoholic soft drink, a lemonade, as he does not drink alcohol because of his faith. Despite these orders being made very clearly, Dan decides to put shots of vodka in both Jack’s and Hakim’s drinks because he wants a ‘good night’. This continues for four rounds of drinks causing Jack and Hakim to become very drunk.

The three boys are all supporters of Southampton football club and halfway through the night a man walks into the pub wearing a Portsmouth football club jersey. Portsmouth and Southampton are rival football clubs. It turns out that Jack knows the Portsmouth fan and had arguments with this fan in the past. In fact, Jack had threatened to hurt this fan before a football match las month.

Throughout the evening the boys become paranoid that the Portsmouth fan is staring at them. Dan finally suggests to Jack and Hakim that they should confront the man when he leaves. Going into his pocket, Dan gives Jack and Hakim each a flick-knife. As the man leaves Jack and Hakim follow him outside, Dan does not go with them because he already has a criminal record. Outside, Jack and Hakim each stab the Portsmouth fan with the knife. The Portsmouth fan does not die from the wounds.

PART A With reference to the scenario explain which offences you believe Dan, Jack and Hakim might be criminally liable for and whether they have any potential defences.

In doing so explain:

  1. a) The of actus reus and mens rea of the offence(s).
  2. b) Any defences any of the parties might rely upon.
  3. c) Whether Dan is liable, even though, he was not present?

Provide reasons for your answers and support your answers with relevant legislation and case law.


Part B

The facts of the case in Part A become a big media story. In particular, the media are outraged with how the requirement to prove an individual’s subjective mens rea, a fundamental concept in English criminal law, prevents convictions in cases involving intoxication or joint enterprise. In the media’s opinion, this makes conviction difficult and allows criminals to escape from punishment with little benefit to the general public.

In response to this media outrage, Parliament is inviting expert evidence in support and opposition to the English criminal law’s principle that mens rea be subjective.

You must write a letter in response to Parliament’s invitation. Your letter must explain why either (a) you believe subjectivity should be a fundamental principle of English criminal law, (b) you believe subjectivity should be replaced by an objective form of mens rea, or (c) why you believe the use of subjective and objective mens rea should be dependent upon the crime committed.

Provide reasons for your answers and support your answers with relevant legislation and case law.


Part C

To what extent can it be said to be true that in R v Evans [2009] EWCA Crim 650, the prosecution for gross negligence manslaughter overcame the causation problem that arises in prosecutions for constructive manslaughter, illustrated in R v Kennedy (No 2) [2005] EWCA Crim 685. However, this means that, where a drug user dies, it is easier to convict the user’s family and friends than typical drug dealers.

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