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    General Accessorial Liability

    The second category involves basic or general accessorial responsibility, whereby one party assists, counsels or procures the other to commit a single offence. The one who is assisted to commit the offence carries out the actus reus alone. The first party is only an accessory or accomplice, and need not be present at the scene of the crime.[1] Both parties are, however, liable in criminal law. The one who committed the offence becomes the primary or principal, while the accessory becomes the secondary party. The accessory’s liability depends on whether the principal actually committed the offence. This aspect must be proved. However, the principal does not need to be identified, charged or convicted. The most important factor is the commission of the offence. Additionally, for the secondary party to be liable, the prosecution has the burden of proving that he assisted or encouraged the principal to commit the offence. Also, the secondary party’s intention of assisting or encouraging the principal, as well as his knowledge of the central elements of the offence committed, are very key in determining his culpability.[2] Knowledge in this regard includes the believe or foresight that the central elements, such as the actus reus, might be executed.[3] This has to be interpreted broadly in accordance with the elements of the particular offence to avoid ambivalence.

    One of the illustrative cases is R v Calhaem,[4] in which the accused person hired a hit-man to kill a certain woman. The hit-man gave evidence that after being given his part of the deal, he

    [1] Crown Prosecution Service, ‘CPS Guidance on: Joint Enterprise Charging Decisions’ (December 2012) 4 <> accessed 30 July 2016.

    [2] Ibid.

    [3] Ibid.

    [4] [1985] QB 808.

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