Brief of R v Smith

Brief of R v Smith by Legum

R v. Smith [1959] 2 QB 35

Material Facts:

The defendant, a soldier, stabbed another soldier during a fight in an army barracks. While the victim was being rushed to the hospital, he was dropped twice by those carrying him. At the hospital, he received negligent medical treatment as the doctors failed to recognise that one of his lungs was punctured. The victim died, and the defendant was charged and convicted of murder. He appealed against his conviction on the grounds that if the doctors had not been negligent and the victim had not been dropped twice, the victim would not have died.


Whether the negligence of the doctors caused the death of the victim.


The negligence of the doctors did not cause the death of the victim.

Ratio Decidendi:

At the time of the victim’s death, the original stab was still the operating cause of death, not negligent treatment. Lord Parker CJ said:

If at the time of death the original wound is still an operating cause and a substantial cause, then the death can properly be said to be the result of the wound, albeit that some other cause of death is also operating. Only if it can be said that the original wounding is merely the setting in which another cause operates can it be said that the death did not result from the wound. Putting it another way, only if the second cause is so overwhelming as to make the original wound merely part of the history can it be said that the death does not flow from the wound

In the present case, the second cause was not so overwhelming as to overshadow the original stab wound as the cause of death.Paste your document here