Transferred malice
Transferred malice

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Transferred malice
  • The principle of transferred malice
  • The extent of the principle of transferred malice
  • Relevance of transferred malice principle to secondary participation in a crime
  • The charge based on transferred malice

The principle of transferred malice

If a person has a malicious intent towards X and, in carrying out that intent, injures Y, he is guilty of an offence. So, if D shoots at A with intent to kill him but kills B by mistake it is murder; the mistake as to the identity of the victim is irrelevant as D intended to kill a person and did kill someone. In Latimer where the defendant struck someone with his belt but wounded another, the court held that the defendant was rightly convicted of an offence under section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OATPA 1861).

The extent of the principle of transferred malice

In A—G Ref (No 3 of 1994) the defendant stabbed a woman who was pregnant. As a result of the stabbing, the woman gave birth to a premature child who later died from a lung condition due to the premature birth. The court acknowledged the existence of the principle but refused to extend it to the circumstances in question as it would have required malice to be transferred twice; from the victim mother to the foetus and from the foetus to the child.

The harm done must be of the same kind as

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