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United Kingdom House of Lords Decisions

You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> United Kingdom House of Lords Decisions >> R v Adomako [1994] UKHL 6 (30 June 1994)
Cite as: (1994) 98 Cr App R 282, [1994] UKHL 6, 98 Cr App R 282, [1994] 3 All ER 79, [1994] 3 WLR 288, [1995] 1 AC 171, [1995] AC 171

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    Parliamentary Archives,



    Adomako (Appellant)
    (On Appeal from the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division))


    Die Jovis 30° Junii 1994

    Upon Report from the Appellate Committee to whom was
    referred the Cause Regina against Adomako, That the Committee had
    heard Counsel as well on Tuesday the 10th as on Wednesday the
    11th days of May last upon the Petition and Appeal of John Asare
    Adomako of 15 Windmill Court, West Green, Crawley, West Sussex
    RH10 2NA, praying that the matter of the Order set forth in the
    Schedule thereto, namely an Order of Her Majesty's Court of
    Appeal (Criminal Division) of the 20th day of May 1993, might be
    reviewed before Her Majesty the Queen in Her Court of Parliament
    and that the said Order might be reversed, varied or altered or
    that the Petitioner might have such other relief in the premises
    as to Her Majesty the Queen in Her Court of Parliament might seem
    meet; as upon the case of the Director of Public Prosecutions (on
    behalf of Her Majesty) lodged in answer to the said appeal and
    due consideration had this day of what was offered on either side
    in this Cause:

    It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and
    Temporal in the Court of Parliament of Her Majesty the Queen
    assembled, That the said Order of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal
    (Criminal Division) of the 20th day of May 1993 complained of in
    the said Appeal be, and the same is hereby, Affirmed and that the
    said Petition and Appeal be, and the same is hereby, dismissed
    this House: And it is further Ordered. That the question
    certified by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) on the 15th
    day of June 1993 be answered with a declaration that:

    "In cases of manslaughter by criminal negligence involving
    a breach of duty, it is a sufficient direction to the jury
    to adopt the gross negligence test set out by the Court of
    Appeal in the present case following Rex. v. Bateman 19 Cr.
    App. R.8 and Andrews v. DPP [1937] AC 576 and it is not
    necessary to refer to the definition of recklessness in R.-
    v. Lawrence
    [1982] A.C. 510, although it is perfectly open
    to the trial judge to use the word "reckless" in its
    ordinary meaning as part of his exposition of the law if he
    deems it appropriate in the circumstances of the particular

    And it is also further Ordered, That there be no order as to the
    Costs of the said Appeal.

    Cler: Parliamentor:

    Judgment: 30 June 1994






    The Lord Chancellor
    Lord Keith of Kinkel
    Lord Goff of Chieveley
    Lord Browne -Wilkinson
    Lord Woolf


    My Lords,

    This is an appeal brought with the leave of your Lordships'
    House granted on 23 November 1993 from an Order of Her Majesty's Court
    of Appeal, Criminal Division (Lord Taylor of Gosforth C.J., Henry, and
    Blofeld J.J.) whereby the appellant's appeal against conviction for
    manslaughter was dismissed.

    The conviction arose out of the conduct of an eye operation carried out
    at the Mayday Hospital, Croydon on 4 January 1987. The appellant was.
    during the latter part of that operation, the anaesthetist in charge of the

    The operation was carried out by two surgeons supported by a team of
    five nurses and a theatre sister. Anaesthesia commenced at about 9.45 a.m.
    The patient was paralysed by injection of a drug and an endotracheal tube was
    inserted to enable the patient to breathe by mechanical means. At the start of
    the operation the anaesthetist was Dr. Said, a registrar. An operating
    department assistant was also present to help him. At about 10.30 a.m. there
    was a changeover of anaesthetists. The appellant was called to attend and take
    Dr. Said's place following which both Dr. Said and his assistant departed to
    deal with another operation elsewhere in the hospital. Another assistant was
    called to attend but did not arrive until later.

    At approximately 11.05 a.m. a disconnection occurred at the
    endotracheal tube connection. The supply of oxygen to the patient ceased and
    this led to cardiac arrest at 11.14 a.m. During this period the appellant failed
    to notice or remedy the disconnection.

    - 1 -

    The appellant first became aware that something was amiss when an
    alarm sounded on the Dinamap machine, which monitors the patient's blood
    pressure. From the evidence it appears that some 4
    ½ minutes would have
    elapsed between the disconnection and the sounding of this alarm. When this
    alarm sounded the appellant responded in various ways by checking the
    equipment and by administering atropine to raise the patient's pulse. But at
    no stage before the cardiac arrest did he check the integrity of the
    endotracheal tube connection. The disconnection itself was not discovered
    until after resuscitation measures had been commenced.

    For the prosecution it was alleged that the appellant was guilty of gross
    negligence in failing to notice or respond appropriately to obvious signs that
    a disconnection had occurred and that the patient had ceased to breathe. In
    particular the prosecution alleged that the appellant had failed to notice at
    various stages during the period after disconnection and before the arrest
    either occurred or became inevitable that the patient's chest was not moving,
    the dials on the mechanical ventilating machine were not operating, the
    disconnection in the endotracheal rube, that the alarm on the ventilator was not
    switched on and that the patient was becoming progressively blue. Further the
    prosecution alleged that the appellant had noticed but failed to understand the
    correct significance of the fact that during this period the patient's pulse had
    dropped and the patient's blood pressure had dropped.

    Two expert witnesses gave evidence for the prosecution. Professor
    Payne described the standard of care as "abysmal" while Professor Adams
    stated that in his view a competent anaesthetist should have recognised the
    signs of disconnection within 15 seconds and that the appellant's conduct
    amounted to "a gross dereliction of care".

    On behalf of the appellant it was conceded at his trial that he had been
    negligent. The issue was therefore whether his conduct was criminal.

    The expert witness called on behalf of the appellant at his trial was Dr.
    Monks. His evidence conceded that the appellant ought to have noticed the
    disconnection. But in his view there were factors which mitigated this failure.
    He considered that another independent problem either occurred or could have
    occurred before or at the same time as the disconnection which distracted the
    appellant's attention and activities. This problem would in his view have
    caused the patient's blood pressure to drop and may either have been a
    reaction to the drug being used to paralyse the patient or alternatively may
    have been caused by an ocular cardiac reflex.

    The appellant himself said in evidence that when the alarm sounded on
    the Dinamap machine his first thought was that the machine itself was not
    working properly. Having carried out checks on the machine he then thought
    that the patient had suffered an ocular cardiac reflex for which he
    administered atropine in two successive doses. Further attempts to administer
    atropine by intravenous drip and to check the patient's blood pressure

    - 2 -

    followed until the cardiac arrest occurred. It had never occurred to him that
    a disconnection had taken place. He stated in evidence that ''after things went
    wrong I think I did panic a bit".

    In relation to the appellant's actions during this period Professor Payne
    had conceded during cross examination that "given that Dr. Adomako misled
    himself the efforts he made were not unreasonable". The period to which this
    evidence referred was obviously the period after the alarm had sounded on the
    Dinamap machine which was as I have said apparently some 4
    ½ minutes after
    the disconnection occurred.

    The jury convicted the appellant of manslaughter by a majority of 11
    to 1. The Court of Appeal Criminal Division dismissed the appellant's appeal
    against conviction but certified that a point of law of general public
    importance was involved in the decision to dismiss the appeal, namely:

    "In cases of manslaughter by criminal negligence not involving driving
    but involving a breach of duty is it a sufficient direction to the jury to
    adopt the gross negligence test set out by the Court of Appeal in the
    present case following Rex. v. Bateman (1925) 19 Cr. App. R. 8 and
    Andrews v. Director of Public Prosecutions [1937] AC 576, without
    reference to the test of recklessness as defined in Reg. v. Lawrence
    [1982] A.C. 510 or as adapted to the circumstances of the

    The decision of the Court of Appeal is reported at [1994] Q.B. 302
    along with a number of other cases involving similar questions of law. The
    Court of Appeal held that except in cases of motor manslaughter the
    ingredients which had to be proved to establish an offence of involuntary
    manslaughter by breach of duty were the existence of the duty, a breach of the
    duty which had caused death and gross negligence which the jury considered
    to justify a criminal conviction; the jury might properly find gross negligence
    on proof of indifference to an obvious risk of injury to health or of actual
    foresight of the risk coupled either with a determination nevertheless to run
    it or with an intention to avoid it but involving such a high degree of
    negligence in the attempted avoidance as the jury considered justified
    conviction or of inattention or failure to advert to a serious risk going beyond
    mere inadvertence in respect of an obvious and important matter which the
    defendant's duty demanded he should address; and that, in the circumstances,
    the appeals of the two junior doctors and the electrician would be allowed and
    the appeal of the anaesthetist, namely Dr. Adomako, would be dismissed.
    The reason that the Court of Appeal excepted the cases of motor manslaughter
    and their formulation of the law was the decision of this House in Reg. v.
    Seymour (Edward)
    [1983] 2 A.C. 493 in which it was held that where
    manslaughter was charged and the circumstances were that the victim was
    killed as a result of the reckless driving of the defendant on a public highway,
    the trial judge should give the jury the direction which had been suggested in
    Reg. v. Lawrence (Stephen) [1982] A.C. 510 but that it was appropriate also

    - 3 -

    to point out that in order to constitute the offence of manslaughter the risk of
    death being caused by the manner of the defendant's driving must be very

    In opening his very cogent argument for the appellant before your
    Lordships, counsel submitted that the law in this area should have the
    characteristics of clarity, certainty, intellectual coherence and general
    applicability and acceptability. For these reasons he said the law applying to
    involuntary manslaughter generally should involve a universal test and that test
    should be the test already applied in this House to motor manslaughter. He
    criticised the concept of gross negligence which was the basis of the judgment
    of the Court of Appeal submitting that its formulation involved circularity, the
    jury being told in effect to convict of a crime if they thought a crime had been
    committed and that accordingly using gross negligence as the conceptual basis
    for the crime of involuntary manslaughter was unsatisfactory and the court
    should apply the law laid down in Seymour [1983] 2 A.C. 493 generally to all
    cases of involuntary manslaughter or at least use this as the basis for providing
    general applicability and acceptability.

    Like the Court of Appeal your Lordships were treated to a considerable
    review of authority. I begin with Rex. v. Bateman 19 Cr. App. R. 8 and the
    opinion of Lord Hewart C.J., where he said, at pp. 10-11:

    "In expounding the law to juries on the trial of indictments for
    manslaughter by negligence, judges have often referred to the
    distinction between civil and criminal liability for death by negligence.
    The law of criminal liability for negligence is conveniently explained
    in that way. 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."

    Later he said, at pp 11-12:

    "In explaining to juries the test which they should apply to determine
    whether negligence, in the particular case, amounted or did not amount
    to a crime, judges have used many epithets such as 'culpable',
    'criminal', 'gross', 'wicked', 'clear', 'complete'. But whatever epithet
    be used and whether an epithet be used or not, in order to establish

    - 4 -

    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."

    After dealing with a number of authorities the Lord Chief Justice went on,
    at pp. 12-13:

    "The law as laid down in these cases may be thus summarised: if a
    person holds himself out as possessing special skill and knowledge and
    he is consulted, as possessing such skill and knowledge, by or on
    behalf of a patient, he owes a duty to the patient to use due caution in
    undertaking the treatment. If he accepts the responsibility and
    undertakes the treatment and the patient submits to his direction and
    treatment accordingly, he owes a duty to the patient to use diligence,
    care, knowledge, skill and caution in administering the treatment. No
    contractual relation is necessary, nor is it necessary that the service be
    rendered for reward. It is for the judge to direct the jury what
    standard to apply and for the jury to say whether that standard has
    been reached. The jury should not exact the highest, or a very high,
    standard, nor should they be content with a very low standard. The
    law requires a fair and reasonable standard of care and competence.
    This standard must be reached in all the matters above mentioned. If
    the patient's death has been caused by the defendant's indolence or
    carelessness, it will not avail to show that he had sufficient knowledge;
    nor will it avail to prove that he was diligent in attendance, if the
    patient has been killed by his gross ignorance and unskilfulness. No
    further observation need be made with regard to cases where the death
    is alleged to have been caused by indolence or carelessness. As
    regards cases where incompetence is alleged, it is only necessary to
    say that the unqualified practitioner cannot claim to be measured by
    any lower standard than that which is applied to a qualified man. As
    regards cases of alleged recklessness, juries are likely to distinguish
    between the qualified and the unqualified man. There may be
    recklessness in undertaking the treatment and recklessness in the
    conduct of it. It is, no doubt, conceivable that a qualified man may be
    held liable for recklessly undertaking a case which he knew, or should
    have known, to be beyond his powers, or for making his patient the
    subject of reckless experiment. Such cases are likely to be rare. In
    the case of the quack, where the treatment has been proved to be
    incompetent and to have caused the patient's death, juries are not
    likely to hesitate in finding liability on the ground that the defendant
    undertook, and continued to treat, a case involving the gravest risk to
    his patient, when he knew he was not competent to deal with it, or
    would have known if he had paid any proper regard to the life and
    safety of his patient.

    - 5 -

    "The foregoing observations deal with civil liability. To support an
    indictment for manslaughter the prosecution must prove the matters
    necessary to establish civil liability (except pecuniary loss), and, in
    addition, must satisfy the jury that the negligence or incompetence of
    the accused went beyond a mere matter of compensation and showed
    such disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime
    against the State and conduct deserving punishment."

    Next I turn to Andrews v. Director of Public Prosecutions [1937] A.C.
    576 which was a case of manslaughter through the dangerous driving of a
    motor car. In a speech with which all the other members of this House who
    sat agreed, Lord Atkin said, at pp. 581-582:

    "Of all crimes manslaughter appears to afford most difficulties of
    definition, for it concerns homicide in so many and so varying
    conditions. From the early days when any homicide involved penalty
    the law has gradually evolved 'through successive differentiations and
    integrations' until it recognizes murder on the one hand, based mainly,
    though not exclusively, on an intention to kill, and manslaughter on the
    other hand, based mainly, though not exclusively, on the absence of
    intention to kill but with the presence of an element of 'unlawfulness'
    which is the elusive factor. In the present case it is only necessary to
    consider manslaughter from the point of view of an unintentional
    killing caused by negligence, that is, the omission of a duty to take
    care. I do not propose to discuss the development of this branch of
    the subject as treated in the successive treatises of Coke, Hale, Foster
    and East and in the judgments of the courts to be found either in
    directions to juries by individual judges or in the more considered
    pronouncements of the body of judges which preceded the formal
    Court of Crown Cases Reserved. Expressions will be found which
    indicate that to cause death by any lack of due care will amount to
    manslaughter; but as manners softened and the law became more
    humane a narrower criterion appeared. After all, manslaughter is a
    felony, and was capital, and men shrank from attaching the serious
    consequences of a conviction for felony to results produced by mere
    inadvertence. The stricter view became apparent in prosecutions of
    medical men or men who professed medical or surgical skill for
    manslaughter by reason of negligence. As an instance I will cite Rex.
    v. Williamson
    (1807) 3 C. & P. 635 where a man who practised as an
    accoucheur, owing to a mistake in his observation of the actual
    symptoms, inflicted on a patient terrible injuries from which she died.
    'To substantiate that charge' namely, manslaughter Lord
    Ellenborough said, 'the prisoner must have been guilty of criminal
    misconduct, arising either from the grossest ignorance or the most
    criminal inattention.' The word 'criminal' in any attempt to define a
    crime is perhaps not the most helpful: but it is plain that the Lord
    Chief Justice meant to indicate to the jury a high degree of negligence.
    So at a much later date in Rex. v. Bateman 19 Cr. App. R. 8 a charge


    of manslaughter was made against a qualified medical practitioner in
    similar circumstances to those of Williamson's case."

    Lord Atkin then refers to the judgment of Lord Hewart C.J. from
    which I have already quoted and goes on, at p. 583:

    "Here again I think with respect that the expressions used are not,
    indeed they were probably not intended to be, a precise definition of
    the crime. I do not myself find the connotations of mens rea helpful
    in distinguishing between degrees of negligence, nor do the ideas of
    crime and punishment in themselves carry a jury much further in
    deciding whether in a particular case the degree of negligence shown
    is a crime and deserves punishment. But the substance of the
    judgment is most valuable, and in my opinion is correct. In practice
    it has generally been adopted by judges in charging juries in all cases
    of manslaughter by negligence, whether in driving vehicles or
    otherwise. The principle to be observed is that cases of manslaughter
    in driving motor cars are but instances of a general rule applicable to
    all charges of homicide by negligence. Simple lack of care such as
    will constitute civil liability is not enough: for purposes of the
    criminal law there are degrees of negligence: and a very high degree
    of negligence is required to be proved before the felony is established.
    Probably of all the epithets that can be applied 'reckless' most nearly
    covers the case. It is difficult to visualise a case of death caused by
    reckless driving in the connotation of that term in ordinary speech
    which would not justify a conviction for manslaughter: but it is
    probably not all-embracing, for 'reckless' suggests an indifference to
    risk whereas the accused may have appreciated the risk and intended
    to avoid it and yet shown such a high degree of negligence in the
    means adopted to avoid the risk as would justify a conviction. If the
    principle of Bateman's case 19 Cr. App. R. 8 is observed it will
    appear that the law of manslaughter has not changed by the
    introduction of motor vehicles on the road. Death caused by their
    negligent driving, though unhappily much more frequent, is to be
    treated in law as death caused by any other form of negligence: and
    juries should be directed accordingly."

    In my opinion the law as stated in these two authorities is satisfactory
    as providing a proper basis for describing the crime of involuntary
    manslaughter. Since the decision in Andrews was a decision of your
    Lordships' House, it remains the most authoritative statement of the present
    law which I have been able to find and although its relationship to Reg. v.
    Seymour (Edward) [1983] 2 A.C. 493 is a matter to which I shall have to
    return, it is a decision which has not been departed from. On this basis in my
    opinion the ordinary principles of the law of negligence apply to ascertain
    whether or not the defendant has been in breach of a duty of care towards the
    victim who has died. If such breach of duty is established the next question
    is whether that breach of duty caused the death of the victim. If so, the jury

    - 7 -

    must go on to consider whether that breach of duty should be characterised as
    gross negligence and therefore as a crime. This will depend on the
    seriousness of the breach of duty committed by the defendant in all the
    circumstances in which the defendant was placed when it occurred. The jury
    will have to consider whether the extent to which the defendant's conduct
    departed from the proper standard of care incumbent upon him, involving as
    it must have done a risk of death to the patient, was such that it should be
    judged criminal.

    It is true that to a certain extent this involves an element of circularity,
    but in this branch of the law I do not believe that is fatal to its being correct
    as a test of how far conduct must depart from accepted standards to be
    characterised as criminal. This is necessarily a question of degree and an
    attempt to specify that degree more closely is I think likely to achieve only a
    spurious precision. The essence of the matter which is supremely a jury
    question is whether having regard to the risk of death involved, the conduct
    of the defendant was so bad in all the circumstances as to amount in their
    judgment to a criminal act or omission.

    My Lords the view which I have stated of the correct basis in law for
    the crime of involuntary manslaughter accords I consider with the criteria
    stated by counsel although I have not reached the degree of precision in
    definition which he required, but in my opinion it has been reached so far as
    practicable and with a result which leaves the matter properly stated for a
    jury's determination.

    My Lords in my view the law as stated in Reg. v. Seymour (Edward)
    [1983] 2 A.C. 493 should no longer apply since the underlying statutory
    provisions on which it rested have now been repealed by the Road Traffic Act
    1991. It may be that cases of involuntary motor manslaughter will as a result
    become rare but I consider it unsatisfactory that there should be any exception
    to the generality of the statement which I have made, since such exception, in
    my view, gives rise to unnecessary complexity. For example in Kong Cheuk
    Kwan v
    The Queen (1985) 82 Cr. App. R. 18 it would give rise to
    unnecessary differences between the law applicable to those navigating vessels
    and the lookouts on the vessels.

    I consider it perfectly appropriate that the word "reckless" should be
    used in cases of involuntary manslaughter, but as Lord Atkin put it "in the
    ordinary connotation of that word". Examples in which this was done, to my
    mind, with complete accuracy are Reg. v. Stone [1977] Q.B. 354 and Reg. v.
    West London Coroner, Ex parte Gray [1988] Q.B. 467.

    In my opinion it is quite unnecessary in the context of gross negligence
    to give the detailed directions with regard to the meaning of the word
    "reckless" associated with Reg. v. Lawrence (Stephen) [1982] A.C. 510. The
    decision of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division in the other cases with
    which they were concerned at the same time as they heard the appeal in this

    - 8 -

    case indicates that the circumstances in which involuntary manslaughter has
    to be considered may make the somewhat elaborate and rather rigid directions
    inappropriate. I entirely agree with the view that the circumstances to which
    a charge of involuntary manslaughter may apply are so various that it is
    unwise to attempt to categorise or detail specimen directions. For my part I
    would not wish to go beyond the description of the basis in law which I have
    already given.

    In my view the summing up of the learned judge in the present case
    was a model of clarity in analysis of the facts and in setting out the law in a
    manner which was readily comprehensible by the jury. The summing up was
    criticised in respect of the inclusion of the following passage:

    "Of course you will understand it is not for every humble man of the
    profession to have all that great skill of the great men in Harley Street
    but, on the other hand, they are not allowed to practice medicine in
    this country unless they have acquired a certain amount of skill. They
    are bound to show a reasonable amount of skill according to the
    circumstances of the case, and you have to judge them on the basis
    that they are skilled men, but not necessarily so skilled as more skilful
    men in the profession, and you can only convict them criminally if. in
    your judgment, they fall below the standard of skill which is the least
    qualification which any doctor should have. You should only convict
    a doctor of causing a death by negligence if you think he did
    something which no reasonably skilled doctor should have done."

    The criticism was particularly of the latter part of this quotation in that
    it was open to the meaning that if the defendant did what no reasonably skilled
    doctor should have done it was open to the jury to convict him of causing
    death by negligence. Strictly speaking this passage is concerned with the
    statement of a necessary condition for a conviction by preventing a conviction
    unless that condition is satisfied. It is incorrect to treat it as stating a
    sufficient condition for conviction. In any event I consider that this passage
    in the context was making the point forcefully that the defendant in this case
    was not to be judged by the standard of more skilled doctors but by the
    standard of a reasonably competent doctor. There were many other passages
    in the summing up which emphasised the need for a high degree of negligence
    if the jury were to convict and read in that context I consider that the
    summing up cannot be faulted.

    For these reasons I am of the opinion that this appeal should be
    dismissed and that the certified question should be answered by saying:

    "In cases of manslaughter by criminal negligence involving a breach
    of duty, it is a sufficient direction to the jury to adopt the gross
    negligence test set out by the Court of Appeal in the present case
    following Rex. v. Bateman 19 Cr. App. R. 8 and Andrews v. Director
    of Public Prosecutions
    [1937] AC 576 and that it is not necessary to

    - 9 -

    refer to the definition of recklessness in Reg. v. Lawrence [1982] A.C.
    510, although it is perfectly open to the trial judge to use the word
    "reckless" in its ordinary meaning as part of his exposition of the law
    if he deems it appropriate in the circumstances of the particular case."

    We have been referred to the Consultation Paper by the Law
    Commission No. 135. Criminal Law. Involuntary Manslaughter An Overview
    (1994), and we have also been referred to a number of standard text books.
    I have also had the opportunity of considering the Note by Sir John Smith.
    [1994] Crim. L.R.. p. 292 since the hearing was completed. While I have not
    referred to these in detail I have derived considerable help in seeking to
    formulate my view as a result of studying them.

    I have reached the same conclusion on the basic law to be applied in
    this case as did the Court of Appeal. Personally I would not wish to state the
    law more elaborately than I have done. In particular I think it is difficult to
    take expressions used in particular cases out of the context of the cases in
    which they were used and enunciate them as if applying generally. This can
    I think lead to ambiguity and perhaps unnecessary complexity. The task of
    trial judges in setting out for the jury the issues of fact and the relevant law
    in cases of this class is a difficult and demanding one. I believe that the
    supreme test that should be satisfied in such directions is that they are
    comprehensible to an ordinary member of the public who is called to sit on
    a jury and who has no particular prior acquaintance with the law. To make
    it obligatory on trial judges to give directions in law which are so elaborate
    that the ordinary member of the jury will have great difficulty in following
    them, and even greater difficulty in retaining them in his memory for the
    purpose of application in the jury room, is no service to the cause of justice.
    The experienced counsel who assisted your Lordships in this appeal indicated
    that as a practical matter there was a danger in over elaboration of definition
    of the word "reckless". While therefore I have said in my view it is perfectly
    open to a trial judge to use the word "reckless" if it appears appropriate in the
    circumstances of a particular case as indicating the extent to which a
    defendant's conduct must deviate from that of a proper standard of care, I do
    not think it right to require that this should be done and certainly not right that
    it should incorporate the full detail required in the case of Lawrence.


    My Lords,

    For the reasons given in the speech of my noble and learned friend the
    Lord Chancellor, which I have read in draft and with which I agree, I too
    would dismiss the appeal and answer the certified question as he has proposed.

    - 10 -


    My Lords,

    For the reasons given in the speech of my noble and learned friend the
    Lord Chancellor, which I have read in draft and with which I agree, I too
    would dismiss the appeal and answer the certified question as he has proposed.


    My Lords,

    For the reasons given in the speech of my noble and learned friend the
    Lord Chancellor, which I have read in draft and with which I agree. I too
    would dismiss the appeal and answer the certified question as he has proposed.


    My Lords,

    I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech of my noble
    and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, and with which I agree, I too would
    dismiss the appeal and answer the certified question as he has proposed.

    - 11 -

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