The House of Lords on Attempting the Impossible

H. L. A. Hart

in Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy

Published in print November 1983 | ISBN: 9780198253884
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681431 | DOI:
The House of Lords on Attempting the Impossible

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In 1973, the House of Lords in Haughton v. Smith reformulated the law relating to criminal attempts, expressly overruling in the process two decisions of lower courts and disapproving of some others. In 1978, the House of Lords in Director of Public Prosecutions v. Nock held that an agreement that is supposed to achieve something which is ‘physically impossible’ (in that case, to extract a physical substance from a compound which did not contain it) could not constitute a criminal conspiracy, and two Lords of Appeal (Lords Diplock and Scarman) made a number of strong obiter observations from another case. There remains to be considered two arguments thought by some judges to support the view that conduct in umbrella-type cases cannot constitute a criminal attempt.

Keywords: The House of Lords; criminal attempts; Director of Public Prosecutions; Nock; Haughton; Smith

Chapter.  10114 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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