R v Faulkner [1877]

R v Faulkner [1877] 13 Cox CC 550 is a significant case heard by the Court for Crown Cases Reserved. The decision established a crucial principle that the mens rea for committing one criminal act does not automatically transfer to all potential criminal consequences of that act.

The defendant, employed on a ship transporting rum, sugar, and cotton, entered the cargo hold without permission. He poked a hole in a barrel of rum, drank some of it, and lit a match to see while plugging the hole. The rum caught fire, resulting in the destruction of the ship. The defendant was charged with larceny for stealing the rum and arson for the destruction of the ship.

The Court for Crown Cases Reserved quashed the arson conviction. The court held that the defendant's intent to commit larceny (stealing the rum) did not necessarily imply an intent to commit arson (destroying the ship). The conviction for arson was based on improper jury instructions that allowed a guilty verdict even if the defendant only intended to commit larceny.

The case established the principle that the mens rea for one criminal act does not automatically extend to all potential criminal consequences arising from that act. Intent for one offence does not imply intent for all possible outcomes.

The decision in Faulkner was considered in DPP v Smith (Jim) [1961], a case examining the natural or probable consequences of acts leading to homicide. It has also been applied in cases related to reckless criminal damage, emphasising the importance of distinguishing between specific criminal intents for different offences.

The concept of oblique intentions, where the defendant may not have a direct intent for a particular consequence but still engages in a reckless act, has influenced subsequent decisions. Notably, R v Cunningham [1957], a Court of Appeal decision, discussed the law in cases involving interference with a gas meter leading to injury.

Faulkner contributes to the foundational understanding that the mens rea must be specifically tied to the elements of each offence, and intent for one crime cannot be automatically transferred to all potential criminal consequences.
Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
INSEAD
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law

    Terminology

    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

    Exam-focused

    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.