The viscissitude of personal responsibility

Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas

(“Fortunate is he who can understand the causes of things”)[1]

  Causation is neither an exclusively philosophical problem nor a matter that only ever troubled the classical Roman poets. As a legal concept, it is pivotal in many areas of law, particularly within the law of negligence. Chiefly, this is explicable by the observation that causation often serves as the last line of defence open to wrongdoers. And yet, despite its apparent centrality in law, many judges still consider causation to be a matter of ‘common sense’. But it is worth remembering Lord Hoffmann’s extra-judicial observations in the Law Quarterly Review (2005) when commenting on Hart and Honoré’s Causation in Law published in 1959. According to Lord Hoffmann,

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