a1 Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.
This paper traces a key example of the overlap between tort and crime and explains the impact of how disjointed English legal thinking has been. For about 400 years English civil courts have accepted some form of pre-eminence of the criminal law where civil and serious criminal liability co-exist. This has often been described as the rule that “a trespass merges in a felony” though a more neutral term would be a “timing rule”. The development of the timing rules casts light on how English legal reasoning has approached the relationship between the victim and the state, the procedural context of substantive rules and the impact rules in one area of law can have elsewhere.
The author is very grateful to David Ibbetson, John Bell, Peter Glazebrook, Penelope Crossley, Jennifer Davis, Michael Stein and the anonymous referees for comments on earlier drafts. Thanks are also due to the attendees at the 21st British Legal History Conference in Cambridge, July 2011 and the London Legal History Seminar in October 2011 where versions of this paper was presented.