Key Words:  allowed risks, objective imputation, permissible risk, social utility, unjustifiable risk / adéquation sociale, justification extra-légale, risque autorisé, risque admissible / erlaubtes Risiko, Sozialadäquanc

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by /par ©François Lareau, 2005-, Ottawa, Canada
First posted officially on the internet: 27 November 2005

Selected Bibliography on Allowed Risks
Bibliographie choisie sur le risque autorisé

ALE, B.J.M., "Tolerable or Acceptable: A Comparison of Risk Regulation in the United Kingdom and in the Netherlands", (April 2005) 25(2) Risk Analysis 231-241;

THE AMERICAN LAW INSTITUTE (ALI),  Model Penal Code and Commentaries (Official Draft and Revised Comments), Part I - General Provisions §§1.01 to 2.13, Philadelphia: The American Law Institute, 1985, liii, 420 p., see § 2.02(2), "General Requirements of Culpability", and "Recklessness", at pp. 236-240; Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 84-51700;

"The risk of which the actor is aware must of course be substantial in order for the recklessness judgment to be made.  The risk must also be unjustifiable.  Even substantial risks, it is clear, may be created without recklessness when the actor is seeking to serve a proper purpose, as when a surgeon performs an operation that he knows is very likely to be fatal but reasonably thinks to be necessary because the patient has no other, safer chance.14  Some principle must, therefore, be articulated to indicate the nature of the final judgment to be made after everything has been weighed.  Describing the risk as 'substantial' and 'unjustifiable' is useful but not sufficient, for these are terms of degree, and the acceptability of a risk in a given case depends on a great many variables.  Some standard is needed for determining how substantial and how unjustifiable the risk must be in order to warrant a finding of culpability.  There is no way to state this value judgment that does not beg the question in the last analysis; the point is that the jury must evaluate the actor's conduct and determine whether it should be condemned.  The Code proposes, therefore, that this difficulty be accepted frankly, and that the jury be asked to measure the substantiality and unjustifiability of the risk by asking whether its disregard, given the actor's perceptions, involved a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a law-abiding person in the actor's situation would observe.15 ...
14 On the other hand, less substantial risks might suffice for liability if there is no pretense of any justification for running the risk.  It is, of course, impossible to prescribe in advance the precise balance in adjudging culpability between factors relating to the degree of the risk and factors going to its nature.  Subsection (2)(c), however, focuses the questions to be asked about a given situation in terms that will allow the jury sensibly to debate the right issues; this is as far as legislation feasibly can go, but it should go this far.

15 The original draft of the standard, as published in Tentative Draft No. 4, asked whether disregard of the risk 'involved culpability of a high degree.'  An alternative formulation was offered as well, in substantially the language now contained in the definition.  The alternative was selected because of the difficulty inherent in defining culpability in terms of culpability, though in some respects the accomplishment is hardly more than verbal;  it does not beg the crucial question any less.  The present formulation is, however, a better way to put the issue to a jury, especially since some of the conduct to which the section applies will not involve great moral culpability, as in the violation of a minor regulatory measure." (p. 237)

___________Model Penal Code: Proposed Official Draft, Philadelphia: The American Law Institute, 1962, xxii, 346 p.;

    A person acts recklessly with respect to a material element of an offense when he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists or will result from his conduct. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that, considering the nature and purpose of the actor's conduct and the circumstances known to him, its disregard involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a law-abiding person would observe in the actor's situation." (section 2.02(2)(c), p. 26; emphasis added)


    A person acts negligently with respect to a material element of an offense when he should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists or will result from his conduct. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the actor's failure to perceive it, considering the nature and purpose of his conduct and the circumstances known to him, involves a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the actor's situation." (section 2.02(2)(d), p. 26; emphasis added)

ANDENAES, Johannes,  The General Part of the Criminal Law of Norway, translated by Thomas P. Ogle, South Hackensack: Fred B. Rothman and London: Sweet and Maxwell, 1965, xxiii, 346 p., and see "Permissible risk", at pp. 151-153 (series; Publications of The Comparative Criminal Law Project, New York University; volume 3);

ARMENIA, Republic of, Criminal Code; available at  (accessed on 23 September 2007);

"Article 46. Justified risk.

1. Inflicting damage to the interests protected by criminal law is not considered a crime, when undertaking justified risk to achieve socially useful goals.

2. Risk is considered justified, if the mentioned goal could not be achieved without an action (or inaction) of risk, and when the risking person takes measures to prevent the danger to the interests protected by criminal law.

3. Risk is considered unjustified, if it obviously involves the death of third persons, or the threat of an ecological or public disaster."

AUSTRALIA, Criminal Law Officers Committee of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General,  Model Criminal Code, Chapter 2 General Principles of Criminal Responsibility -- Final Report December 1992, Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, Commonwealth of Australia, 1993, x, 119, [ii] p., ISBN:  0644287438 (Chairman: David Neal);


203.3  A person is reckless with respect to a circumstance when he or she is aware of a substantial risk that it exists or will exist and it is, having regard to the circumstances known to him or her, unjustifiable to take the risk.  A person is reckless with respect to a result when he or she is aware of a substantial risk that it will occurand it is, having regard to the circumstances known to him or her, unjustifiable to take the risk.

203.3.1 The question whether the taking of a risk is unjustiable is one of fact." (p. 22)


The Committee has used the word 'unjustifiably' for the evaluative element of recklessness rather than 'unreasonably' as used by the Commonwealth Review Committee in order to avoid confusion between recklessness and criminal negligence. ...

Section 203.3 makes it clear that the unjustifiably of the risk is to be assessed on the facts as the accused believes them to be.  However, sub-section 203.3.1 leaves the question of whether the risk taken is 'unjustifiable' for the jury (or the judge or magistrate in cases where there is no jury)." (pp. 30-31)

AUSTRALIA, Victoria. The Law Reform Commissioner, Murder: Mental Element and Punishment, [Melbourne]: The Commissioner, [1984], 52 p. (series; Working paper; Law Reform Commissioner, Victoria; number 8);

It is undesrable to frame a definition of a mental state required for criminal liability in objective terms...  It is therefore provisionally recommended that the mental element for murder be defined without reference to the question of justification for risk-taking...  Objective tests may be more acceptable when they form part of defence.  The defence of necessity may provide adequate relief, although it cannot be claimed with certainty that the present defence would extend to the hypothical cases of the surgeon and the mother discussed earlier." (p. 20)

BAXT, R., and Kewley, G., eds., An Annual Survey of Australian Law 1984, at pp. 46-47; copy at the Library of the Supreme Court of Canada, KF 178 A551 1984-;

BYK, Christian, "L'euthanasie en droit français", (avril-juin 2006) 58(2) Revue internationale de droit comparé 657-671;

    "Les soins palliatifs étaient devenus un droit pour le patient et le soulagement de la douleur un devoir du médecin, n'était-il pas paradoxal que les médecins hésitent encore à agir en ce sens, soulevant le risque encouru de poursuites pénales en cas de décès du patient des suites de l'administration d'une dose de produit ayant pour but de soulager la douleur?

    La loi du 22 avril 2005 lève cette difficulté en permettant au médecin 'qui constate qu'il ne peut soulager la souffrance d'une personne, en phase avancée ou terminale d'une affection grave et incurable', de 'lui appliquer un traitement qui peut avoir pour effet secondaire d'abréger sa vie'51.  Une permission légale est ainsi créée mais celle-ci a ses limites: elle bénéficie aux seuls médecins, s'applique uniquement aux patients en phase avancée ou terminale et suppose qu'il n'existe pas d'autre moyen de soulager la souffrance.

    Toutefois, la différence entre l'hyposthèse visée par la loi, où la mort n'est pas le résultat recherché mais la conséquence possible d'un traitement dont le seul objet est de soulager la souffrance, et celle de l'euthanasie compassionnelle, où la mort aura été délibérément avancée, sera parfois tenue et dépendra des circonstances de fait (respect de la procédure d'information du patient et de l'inscription au dossier...).  L'intention du législateur et le message à l'autorité chargé des poursuites (procureur de la république) est néanmoins de créer, dans ces circonstances, un a priori favorable aux médecins.

51 Art. L. 1110-5 dernier al. du Code de la santé publiqe." (p. 668)  


CANADA, The Minister of Justice of Canada,  Proposals to Amend the Criminal Code (general principles), [Ottawa], [Department of Justice Canada], 28 June 1993, 17 p.; available at my Digital Library,; / information in French (bilingual publication) /informations en français (publication bilingue): Ministre de la Justice du Canda, Proposition de modification du Code criminel (principes généraux), [Ottawa], [Ministère de la Justice Canada], 28 ¸juin 1993, 17 p.; disponible à ma bibliothèque digitale,;

"Recklessness re offence

12.5  (1) Except as otherwise provided by this Act or any other Act of Parliament, where the describtion of an offence specifies or the law otherwise provides, in substance, that the offence be committed recklessly, no person commits that offence unless that person

(a) means to commit the act or make the omission specified in the description of the offence;

(b) is aware of a serious risk that the circumstances, if any, specified in that description exist; and

(c) has the state of mind specified in that description or otherwise provided by law with respect to the consequences, if any, specified in that description.

Recklessness re element of offence

(2) Except as otherwise provided by this Act or any other Act of Parliament, where the description of an offence specifies or the law otherwise provides, in substance, that there be recklessness in respect of an element of the offence, no person commits that offence unless

(a) where that element is an act or omission, the persons means to commit the act or make the omission, as the case may be;

(b) where that element is a circumstance, the person is aware of a serious risk that the circumstance exists; or

(c) where that element is a consequence, the person is aware of a serious risk that the consequence will occur.

Definition of 'serious risk'

(3) In this section, 'serious risk' means

(a) a substantial risk; or

(b) a risk, whether or not substantial, that is highly unreasonable to take." (pp. 3-4)



12.5 (1) Sauf disposition contraire de la présente loi ou de toute autre loi fédérale, pour qu'il y ait infraction, il faut, si la disposition la créant ou toute autre règle de droit prévoit que le critère de l'insouciance s'applique, que l'auteur du fait en cause :

a) veuille l'accomplir;

b) soit conscient du fait qu'il y a un risque que les circonstances éventuellement précisées par la disposition existent;

c) se trouve, quant au résultat éventuellement mentionné dans la disposition, dans l'état d'esprit précisé par celle-ci ou la règle de droit.

Insouciance -- élément constitutif de l'infraction

(2) Sauf disposition contraire de la présente loi ou de toute autre loi fédérale, pour qu'il y ait infraction, il faut, si la disposition la créant ou toute autre règle de droit prévoit que le critère de l'insouciance s'applique à un de ses éléments constitutifs, que l'auteur du fait en cause:

a) dans le cas du fait, veuille l'accomplir;

b) dans le cas d'une circonstance, soit conscient du fait qu'il y a un risque qu'elle existe;

c)dans le cas d'un résulat, soit conscient du fait qu'il y a un risque qu'il se produise.

Définition de 'risque'

(3) Pour l'application du présent article, on entend par 'risque' soit un risque dont la réalisation est probable, soit un risque qu'il est très déraisonnable de prendre, que sa réalisation soit probable ou non." (pp. 3-4)

CIAFARDINI, Mariano, "The Challenges of Criminal Liability: New Alternatives, Limits, Forms and Goals",  [2002] Cahiers de défense sociale; disponible à (accessed on 20 November 2005);
    "As regards the limits modern criminal law must set for the imputation of results to conduct, there are cases when, although the perpetrator creates a risk that may endanger other people's property (for example, the car maker's) such behavior falls outside the protective scope of criminal law since the benefits of societies having a car industry outweigh the drawbacks. Today life without the automobile has become inconceivable and since a society without risks is equally inconceivable and nobody is seriously thinking of living outside society, a normative guarantee entailing no risks has also become impossible: on the contrary, risks inherent to social life have to be irremediably tolerated, as an allowed risk(9).

    It goes without saying that a free society can only tolerate certain risks if the activity that creates the risk is justifiable to whoever will bear the costs: in a free society, freedom of behavior cannot be accepted to the detriment of others.

    Social cohabitation has to be built upon a consensus between co-associates, a consensus that certain parameters of behavior need to be followed since, otherwise, their existence would hinder rather than allow a harmonious social life. As a consequence of this consensus, which, at least at the theoretical level, must underlie norms of social behavior, it becomes essential that each individual be able to organize their activities on the assumption that others will also act in conformity with the law(10). ...
(9) JAKOBS GÜNTER, (1996), La imputación objetiva en derecho penal, Madrid, pág. 118 y sig.

(10) ALVARADO YESID REYES, (1994), La imputación objetiva, Bogotá, pág. 141 y ss."

Code pénal suisse, article 32; disponible à (visionné le 26 novembre 2005);
"Art. 32

8. Actes licites.
Loi, devoir de fonction ou de profession

    Ne constitue pas pas une infraction l’acte ordonné par la loi, ou par un devoir de fonction ou de profession; il en est de même de l’acte que la loi déclare permis ou non punissable."

CORNELIS, Ludo and Pierre Van Ommeslaghe, "Les 'faits justificatifs' dans le droit belge de la responsabilité aquilienne", in Journées d'études sur le droit de la responsabilité (1984: Gand, Belgique), Limpens, Jean, 1910-1979, Centre interuniversitaire de droit comparé, In  memoriam Jean Limpens : Studiedagen aansprakelijkheidsrecht, Gent, 23-24 maart 1984 = In memoriam Jean Limpens : Journées d'études sur le droit de la responsabilité, Gent, 23-24 mars 1984 = In memoriam Jean Limpens : Symposium on Civil Liability, Gent, 23-24 March 1984, Antwerpen : Kluwer rechtswetenschappen, 1987, xxvii, 311 p., aux pp. 265-287, et voir "L'acceptation des risques", aux pp. 285-286 (series; Interuniversitair Centrum voor Rechtsvergelijking; 12), (Collection; Centre interuniversitaire de droit comparé; 12), ISBN: 9063212879; copy at the Library of the Supreme Court of Canada, K923 Z9 I56 1987; droit civil mais un article utile pour les chercheurs et chercheuses;

Crabbe (1985) 156 C.L.R. [Commonwealth Law Reports] 464, at p. 470; [1985] HCA 22  (High Court of Australia); available at (accessed on 26 November 2005);

"10.  A person who does an act causing death knowing that it is probable that the act will cause death or grievous bodily harm is, as Stephen's Digest states, guilty of murder although such knowledge is accompanied by indifference whether death or grievous bodily harm is caused or not or even by a wish that death or grievous bodily harm might not be caused.  That does not mean that reckless indifference is an element of the mental state necessary to constitute the crime of murder.  It is not the offender's indifference to the consequences of his act but his knowledge that those consequences will probably occur that is the relevant element.  Of course, not every fatal act done with the knowledge that death or grievous bodily harm will probably result is murder.  The act may be lawful, that is, justified or excused by law.  A surgeon who competently performs a hazardous but necessary operation is not criminally liable if the patient dies, even if the surgeon foresaw that his death was probable.  Academic writers have pointed out that in deciding whether an act is justifiable its social purpose or social utility is important:  see, for example, Howard, Criminal Law, 4th ed. (1982), at pp.54-55 and 357-359.  That question need not be discussed in the present case where there was no possible justification or excuse for the actions of the applicant.  It should however be made clear that lack of social purpose is not an element of the mental state with which we are here concerned, though it may bear on the question whether the act is justifiable."

CZACHORSKI, Witold, "Causes de justification -- Note pour les pays socialistes, in Journées d'études sur le droit de la responsabilité (1984: Gand, Belgique), Limpens, Jean, 1910-1979, Centre interuniversitaire de droit comparé, In  memoriam Jean Limpens : Studiedagen aansprakelijkheidsrecht, Gent, 23-24 maart 1984 = In memoriam Jean Limpens : Journées d'études sur le droit de la responsabilité, Gent, 23-24 mars 1984 = In memoriam Jean Limpens : Symposium on Civil Liability, Gent, 23-24 March 1984, Antwerpen : Kluwer rechtswetenschappen, 1987, xxvii, 311 p., at pp. 251-264, et voir "Acceptation des risques",  aux pp. 262-263 (series; Interuniversitair Centrum voor Rechtsvergelijking; 12), (Collection; Centre interuniversitaire de droit comparé; 12), ISBN: 9063212879; copy at the Library of the Supreme Court of Canada, K923 Z9 I56 1987; droit civil mais un article utile pour les chercheurs et chercheuses;

DANDO, Shigemitsu, 1913-, The Criminal Law of Japan: The General Part...translated by B.J. George, Littleton (Colorado): Fred B. Rothman, 1997, xxiv, 521 p., and see "Tolerated Risks", at pp. 113-114  (Series; Publications of the Comparative Criminal  Law Project, vol. 19);


    Activities and operations in factories, transportation systems and medical facilities often involve some degree of risk or danger to persons.  If we prohibited such risky or dangerous activities altogether, modern society would be thrown into paralysis.  Such activities, therefore, are reasonably to be viewed as 'tolerated risks"120 to the extent they benefit society.  As another illustration, societal attitudes likewise tolerate a certain degree of exaggeration, misleading or puffing in the course of ordinary commercial or business transactions.  Misleading activity does not amount to criminal fraud to the extent it does not transcend the principles of candor usual in the
120.  Welzel asserted that 'tolerated risk' should be recognized as a basis for excluding illegality only in the context of crimes involving negligence.  In the author's view, however, it should be available concerning intentional crimes, especially those arising from acts falling with the dolus eventualis [mihitsu no koi; cf. recklessness] concept in which an actors proceeds despite knowledge that action poses a danger or risk to someone; an example would be a physician who performs surgery with an awareness that the patient might die on the operating table.  The concept of 'tolerated risk' also should govern not only industrial or transportation activities, but ordinary private activities as well.  Welzel offered as an illustration parents who drive their children to school, despite the fact that there is always some element of risk to passengers inherent in driving as an activity.

[p. 114] particular trade or occupation.121  Finally, in crimes arising from processes of communication or publication,122 fair reporting and editorial comment are excluded from illegality,123 in deference to the constitutional right of free expression.124
121.  See 12 Keishû 538 (Gr. Ct. Cass., May 4, 1933).
122.  For example, the crime of defamation.  Penal Code art. 230.
123.  See 33 Keishû 1074 (S. Ct. First P.B., DEc. 20, 1979).
124  Constitution art. 21(1) ('Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expressions are guaranteed')." (pp. 113-114)

DANNECKER, GERHARD,  “Risk and Criminal Law”, in Gordon R. Woodman and Diethelm Klippel, eds., Risk and the Law, London/New York:Routledge-Cavendish, 2009, xii, 206 p., ISBN: 9780415471497 (hbk.) 75-81, partially available at
(accessed on 22 May 2009);

ELLIOTT, Richard, Criminal Law and HIV/AIDS: Final Report, available at (accessed on 27 November 2005); also available in French/aussi disponible en français: ELLIOTT, Richard, Droit criminel et VIH/sida : rapport final, préparé pour le Réseau juridique canadien VIH/SIDA et la Société canadienne du SIDA, mars 1997, disponible à

Recklessness is "the subjective state of mind of a person who foresees that his conduct may cause the prohibited result but, nevertheless, takes a deliberate and unjustified risk of bringing it about."[21] In other words, in order to be reckless, a person must be aware of the risk of harm of a given course of conduct, and "unjustifiably" take that risk.

In the context of HIV transmission, this would suggest that actual knowledge of one's HIV-positive status would be required before one could be found criminally reckless. The assessment of risk, however, admits of greater uncertainty: it is not whether the accused him/herself believed a risk was justified, but whether a "reasonable person" in the accused's position would have believed it was "unjustified." In assessing whether the taking of a given risk is justified, a court will consider

•  the magnitude of the risk;
•  the gravity of the potential harm; and
•  the social value of the activity carrying the risk.

What sexual activities will be deemed unjustifiably risky for HIV transmission? What is the risk of sharing needles, both with and without attempts at sterilization? As for the question of potential harm, it is likely that HIV infection will be considered a serious harm. Finally, historical experience suggests that gay and lesbian sex, commercial sex work, and teenage sexual activity are not likely to be accorded the same social value as non-commercial, heterosexual sex by adults. Injection drug use is not likely to be considered a socially valuable activity, particularly since it is already illegal....
[21] R Buzzanga and Durocher (1979), 25 OR (2d) 705, 101 DLR (3d) 488, 49 CCC (2d) 369 at 379 (CA)." (Appendix A)



L'insouciance est "l'état d'esprit subjectif d'une personne qui prévoit que sa conduite peut entraîner le résultat prohibé, mais prend quand même un risque délibéré et injustifié de le provoquer[21]". En d'autres termes, pour être insouciante, une personne doit être consciente du risque de dommage que pose une conduite donnée et prendre ce risque "sans motif valable".

Dans le contexte de la transmission du VIH, ceci voudrait dire qu'il serait nécessaire que la personne connaisse réellement sa séropositivité avant de pouvoir être déclarée coupable d'insouciance criminelle. L'évaluation du risque reconnaît cependant une plus grande incertitude: il ne s'agit pas de savoir si l'accusé lui-même croyait le risque justifié, mais si une "personne raisonnable" dans la position de l'accusé l'aurait cru "injustifié". En décidant s'il est justifié de prendre un risque donné, le tribunal tiendra compte des points suivants:

l'étendue du risque;

la gravité du tort potentiel;

la valeur sociale de l'activité comportant le risque.

Quelles activités sexuelles seront jugées comporter un risque injustifié de transmission du VIH? Quel risque représente le partage d'aiguille, à la fois avec et sans tentative de stérilisation? Quant à la question du tort potentiel, il est probable que l'infection à VIH sera considérée comme un tort grave. Finalement, les données historiques suggèrent que les relations sexuelles entre personnes de même sexe, la prostitution et l'activité sexuelle des adolescents n'auront probablement pas la même valeur sociale que les relations sexuelles non commerciales entre adultes de sexe opposé. L'utilisation de drogue par injection ne sera probablement pas considérée comme une activité sociale valable, en particulier puisqu'elle est déjà illégale.[...]

[21] R. c. Buzzanga et Durocher (1979), 25 O.R. (2e) 705, 101 D.L.R. (3e) 488, 49 C.C.C. (2e) 369, à la p. 379 (C.A.)." (Annexe A)

LEADER-ELLIOTT, Ian D., "Fault Elements in Murder -- A Summary of Australian Law -- Draft Memorandum to Jeremy Horder, Law Commissioner,  November 2005, in The Law Commission,  The Law of Murder: Overseas  Comparative Studies, [London: HMSO, 2005], at pp. 2-21, and see "Recklessness, Justification, Excuse, Lack of Social Utility and Wanton Conduct"; available at (accessed on 27 December 2005);

FISSE, Brent, Howard's Criminal Law, 5th ed., Sydney: The Law Book Company, 1990, cxxiii, 660 p., and see `"Recklessness and justification", at pp. 62-63, "Substance and justification", at pp. 489-492 and "Social value", at pp. 492-493, ISBN: 0455207321 and 045520733X (pbk.);

FLETCHER, George P., Rethinking Criminal Law, Boston: Little, Brown, 1978, xxviii, 898 p.; reprint in: Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN:  0195136950;

"The notions of accident, risk and chance interrelate as one set of ideas.  Whether an accident is negligent depends on the risk the actor created.  If the risk falls below the threshold of 'substantial' or 'unjustified', there is no socially harmful danger in creating the risk.  If there is no social danger, there is no act of wrongdoing and therefore no basis for requiring the actor to act in good faith.58
    58 This discussion assumes that the social danger of acting controls the analysis of wrongdoing.  This assumption is advanced most forcefull in Soviet legal theory, which takes 'social dangerousness' to be the criterion of wrongdoing.  See Kurs (GP 1968) at 460-61; Ugol. kod. (RSFSR) §7(2) (de minimis violation, which are not socially dangerous, do not constitute crimes); §13 ('social dangerousness' as the criterion for attacks that may be resisted by defensive force)." (pp. 487-488)

GRAVEN, Philippe, L'infraction pénale punissable, Berne : Éditions Staempfli, 1993, xv, 346 p., et voir "Les risques autorisés", aux pp. 156-157 (Collection; Précis de droit Staempfli), ISBN: 372720978X; il y a maintenant une deuxième édition, soit une mise à jour par Bernhard Sträuli, 1995, 376 p., ISBN: 3727209836;
"Les risques autorisés [...]

Sans entrer dans le détail de ces controverses, on notera que les principes généraux dispensent sans doute de forger une justification extra-légale particulière.  Lorsque l'activité considérée est soumise à une autorisation officielle, son exercice obéit à des conditions légales ou réglementaires destinées à limiter les risques qu'elle présente pour autrui (possession du brevet de pilote ou du permis de conduire, interdiction de circuler en état d'ébriété, obligation de veiller au bon état du véhicule ou d'installer des dispositifs protecteurs, consentement de la personne exposée au danger, etc.); quand ces exigences sont remplies, le danger qui subsiste inévitablement, quoique dans une mesure réduite par les précautions prises, constitue un risque autorisé, i.e., que l'auteur accomplit alors un acte que la loi déclare permis (art. 32 [du Code pénal]).  S'agissant d'atteintes causées dans l'exercice d'activités non réglementées, la prise des précautions commandées par les circonstances permettra à l'auteur, suivant les cas, de se justifier en invoquant le consentement éclairé de la victime (cf. l'exemple de l'avalanche donné au No 106 B) ou de s'exculper du reproche de négligence (art. 18 ch. 3)" (pp. 156-157)

HEALTH AND SAFETY EXECUTIVE, Reducing Risks, Protecting People, Sudbury (Suffolk, England): HSE Books, c1999,  x, 82 p. (series; Discussion document; Great Britain. Health and Safety Executive); copy at Santé Canada, Réseau des bibliothèques scientifiques, Bibliothèque du Centre de recherches Sir F.G. Banting/Health Canada, Science Library Network, Sir F.G. Banting Research Centre Library, call number RA427.3 R43 1999; available at (accessed on 27 November 2005);

HURTADO POZO, José,  Droit pénal -- Partie générale II, Zurich: Schulthness Polygraphischer Verlag, 2002, xli, 396 p., et voir "création ou augmentation d'un risque non admissible", aux pp. 50-52, ISBN: 3725544700; note: l'auteur traite de ce sujet dans la typicité/ note that the author deals with this subject in the question of the defnition of the offence;

"La notion de 'risque admissible'95 a été fortement influencée par le progrès industriel ainsi que la rapide évolution technologique, dont les effets se sont déployés dans toutes les activités économiques et sociales.  La circulation routière, la construction et la démolition des édifices, les chaînes de production automatisées et les nombreuses autres activités modernes sont autant de sources générales de danger.  Aucun législateur ne saurait pour autant les interdire du seul fait de leur caractère risqué, mais elles doivent néanmoins être exécutées avec attention et considération à l'égard des biens juridiques d'autrui.  Dans ce contexte, le critère du risque admis ou toléré trouve application et permet de déterminer la limite par une pondération des intérêts en jeu: si la suppression d'un risque nécessite des efforts disproportionnés par rapport aux avantages qu'apporte une activité par ailleurs socialement positive, le législateur doit autoriser cette activité même si elle comporte un danger pour autrui96.  La fixation des limites de vitesse dans la circulation routière et la réglementation des activités liées à la génétique illustrent bien cette situation et sa problématique. [...]
95 ROXIN, AT 1 § 11, N. 63 ss; KINDHÄUSER, GA 1994, p. 215 ss; STRATENWERTH, AT 1, § 9, N. 32 ss; cf GRAVEN/STRÄULI, p. 161 s.; TRECHSEL/NOLL, p. 137.
96 STRATENWERTH, AT 1, § 9, N. 34; ATF 90 IV 11; ATF 116 IV 308; ATF 117 IV 61/JdT 1993 IV 56."

JACKSON, Gregory P., "Punishments for Reckless Skiing -- Is the Law Too Extreme?", (2001-2002) 106 Dickerson Law Review 619-645;

JAKOBS, Günther, "Imputation in Criminal law and the Conditions for Norm Validity", (2004) 7(2) Buffalo Criminal Law Review 491-511; available at (accessed on 16 June 2005);

    "The basic assumption of the objective imputation theory says that the right to behave in a certain way cannot be determined by considering an isolated individual and a norm. On the contrary, this must always be determined only in the light of persons, i.e., of certain rules of a society. This basic assumption can be developed into three principles when related to the negative duties, i.e., the “not to harm” duties. The positive duties, i.e., the duties to “build something together,” won’t be developed here.

    The first principle has to do with the equality of persons: everyone must demand as much behavioral freedom as every other person demands on a daily basis. This principle lays the foundations for the allowed risk or, from the opposite perspective, the beginning of the unlawful behavior beyond this allowed risk. This means that, for example, driving according to the driving code, though risky, is allowed." (pp. 503-504; notes omitted)

KILLIAS, Martin,  Précis de droit pénal général, Berne: Éditions Staempfli, 1998, xlv, 300 p. (Collection; Précis de droit Staempfli), ISBN: 3727209895;
"Le risque autorisé (das erlaubte Risiko)

    Cette théorie du risque autorisé vise les cas où une entreprise ou une installation technique -- par exemple une centrale nucléaire, une voie de chemin de fer, voire la circulation routière en général -- créent des risques inhérents qui, avec une certaine probabilité statistique, vont se manifester sous la forme d'accidents.  Cette construction juridique n'est pas indispensable, car on arrive au même résultat si l'on admet qu'il n'y a pa de violation des règles de diligence en cas de comportement conforme aux règles du service ou de l'activité en question" (p. 110; une note omise)

LANHAM, David, "Murder, Recklessness and Grievous Bodily Harm", (1978) 2 Criminal Law Journal 255-272, and see "Lack of social utility", at pp. 262-263 and "A dual test -- lack of social utility and a subjective element", at pp. 265-269;

LATVIA, Criminal Code, available at  or  (accessed on 23 September 2007);

"Section 33.     Justifiable Professional Risk

(1)  Criminal liability shall not apply for harm which has been committed through a professional act which has the constituent elements of a criminal offence, if such act has been committed in order to achieve a socially useful objective which was not possible to achieve by other means. The professional risk associated with this act shall be considered justifiable, if the person who has allowed the risk has taken all measures to prevent harm to legally protected interests.

(2)  The risk shall be considered not to be justified, if it is knowingly associated with a threat to the life of several persons or threatens to cause an ecological or public disaster."


LE GUEN, Jean,  Reducing Risks, Protecting People, Sudbury (Suffolk, England): London: Health and Safety Executive, 1999, viii, 80 p.; available at (accessed on 27 November 2005);

THE LAW COMMISSION,  A Criminal Code for England and Wales, vol. 1: Report and Draft Criminal Code Bill and vol. 2: Commentary on Draft Criminal Code Bill, London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, [1989], v, 278 p., (series; Law Com. No. 177), ISBN: 0102299897;

"Fault terms:

18.  For the purposes of this Act and of any offence other than a pre-Code offence as defined in section 6 (to which section 2(3) applies) a person acts --

(c) 'recklessly' with respect to --
(i) a circumstance when he is aware of a risk that it exists or will exist;

(ii) a result when he is aware of a risk that it will occur;

and it is in the circumstances known to him, unreasonable to take the risk;
and these and related words (such as 'knowledge', 'intention', 'recklessness') shall be construed accordingly unless the context otherwise requires." (vol. 1, pp. 51-52)

LAW REFORM COMMISSION OF CANADA, Homicide, Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services, 1984, [10], 117 p., (series; Working Paper; number 33), ISBN: 0662529871; copy of the English version of this working paper is available in pdf format at my Digital Library -- Canadian Criminal Law; information on the French version / informations sur la version française: Commission de réforme du droit du Canada, L'homicide, Ottawa: Ministère des Approvisionnements et Services Canada, 1984, [10], 129 p., (Collection; Document de travail; numéro 33), ISBN: 0662529871;

"Suggested Draft Homicide Chapter...

Reckless homicide

5.  Everyone commits reckless homicide who kills another through knowingly exposing a person other than himself to a substantial and socially unacceptable risk of death. ...


Section 5 ...

'substantial and socially unacceptable risk'   Three factors are relevant: (1) the social utility of the activity involving the risk, (2) the magnitude of the probability of the harm risked and (3) the gravity of the harm itself.

First, the social utility of the activity.  Here two things can be said: (1) if the conduct involving the risk can be brought under a justification contained in the General Part or elsewhere, then taking the risk is justified; (2) if the activity in question is accepted as having social utility, then again the risk-taking is justified.  Which activities are accepted as having social utility, however, should not be set out in a criminal code.  For one thing, the categories of such activities are too numerous for detailed specification in legislation; they include medical treatment, scientific experiment, manufacturing, transportation, sport and many other things.  For another thing, the notion of what is sociably useful changes in a changing society and should not be frozen, therefore, in a code drawn up at one particular point in time.

Second, the magnitude of the probability of the harm risked.  The greater the probability, the less permissible the risk, and vice versa.  This of course will fall to be determined on the evidence.

Third and finally, the gravity of the harm risked.  The graver the harm, the less permissible the risk, and vice versa.  So a high degree of risk of minor harm may be as permissible or impermissible as a lower degree of risk of major harm -- slight risk of serious harm may be as impermissible as serious risk of slight harm.  Here, however, the risk is death, which is obviously a serious harm." (pp. 89 and 91-93)


"Projet de dispositions relatives à l'homicide

Homicide par insoucience

5.  Commet un homicide par insouciance quiconque tue une autre personne en exposant sciemment une personne autre que lui-même à un danger de mort à la fois grave et inacceptable pour la société. [...]

Commentaires [...]

Article 5 [...]

L'expression 'danger grave et inacceptable pour la société' fait enter en jeu trois facteurs: (1) l'utilité pour la société de la conduite comportant le risque, (2) les probabilités relatives à la réalisation du risque, et (3) la gravité du danger lui-même.

Premièrement, deux remarques s'imposent en ce qui a trait à l'utilité pour la société de la conduite en cause.  En premier lieu, si la conduite comportant le danger en question peut être visée par une justification prévue dans la partie générale ou dans d'autres dispositions légales, l'accusé est fondé à courir le risque.  En second lieu, si la conduite en cause comporte une utilité reconnue par la société, encore une fois, l'accusé était fondé à agir comme il l'a fait.

Il n'y a pas lieu, cependant, d'énumérer dans un code pénal les activités qui ont une utilité pour la société.  En premier lieu, les catégories d'activités utiles sur un plan social sont beaucoup trop nombreuses pour pouvoir être détaillées dans la loi: on compte notamment parmi celles-ci les traitements médicaux, les expériences scientifiques, l'industrie de la fabrication, les transports et les sports.  En second lieu, la conception de ce qui est acceptable pour la société évolue avec celle-ci et, en conséquence, ne devrait par être figée dans un code rédigé à une époque donnée.

Deuxièmement, en ce qui a trait aux probabilités de réalisation du risque, plus celles-ci sont grandes, moins le risque est acceptable, et vice versa.  Cette question doit bien entendu être déterminée d'après la preuve.

Troisièmement, quant à la gravité du danger lui-même, plus le danger est grand, moins le risque est acceptable, et vice versa.  Ainsi, un risque considérable relatif à un mal peu important pourrait-il être aussi inacceptable qu'un risque moins grand relatif à un mal très grave.  Inversement, un faible risque relatif à un mal très grave pourrait être tout aussi inacceptable qu'un grand risque relatif à un mal de peu d'importance. Quoi qu'il en soit, il s'agit en l'espèce d'un danger de mort, lequel est manifestement très grave." (pp. 99, 101 et 103)

__________Recodifying Criminal Law (Revised and Enlarged Edition of Report 30),  Ottawa: Law Reform Commission of Canada, 1987, [16], 213 p., (series; Report; number 31), ISBN:0662547578; copy of the English version of this working paper is available in pdf format at my Digital Library -- Canadian Criminal LawResearch Note:  the Commission's recommendations in this report were modified by a subsequent document: "A New General Part for the Criminal Code: Brief from the Law Reform Commission of Canada to the Subcommittee on the General Part" in Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Sub-Committee on the recodification of the General Part of the Criminal Code of the Standing Committee on Justice and the Solicitor General, supra, Issue 1 of : 25, 26, 30 March 1992, at the Appendix, pp. 1A:1 - 1A:17.  This report 31 was tabled in the House of Commons on 19 May 1988 (see House of Commons, Debates, 19 May 1988 at 15609); information on the French version/informations sur la version française, Commission de réforme du droit du Canada,  Pour une nouvelle codification du droit pénal (Édition révisée et augmentée du rapport no 30) , Ottawa: Commission de réforme du droit du Canada, 1987, [16], 233 p., (Collection; Rapport; numéro 31), ISBN: 0662547578; Note de recherche:  notons que les recommandations de la Commission ont été modifiées par le document "Pour une nouvelle codification de la Partie générale du Code criminel - Mémoire présenté au sous-comité sur la Partie générale par la Commission de Réforme du droit du Canada" dans Procès-verbaux et témoignages du Sous-comité sur la Recodification de la Partie générale du Code criminel du Comité permanent de la justice et du Solliciteur généra, supra,  fasicule numéro 1 du  25, 26, 30 mars 1992, aux  pp. 1A:29 - 1A:60.  Ce rapport 31 a été déposé à la Chambre des Communes, le 19 mai 1988 (voir Chambre des Communes, Débats, 19 mai 1988 à 15609);

'Recklessly.'  A person is reckless as to consequences or circumstances if, in acting as he does, he consciously takes a risk, which in the circumstances known to him is highly unresonable to take, that such consequences may result or that such circumstances may obtain.]
    The alternative formulation defines 'recklessly' as a function of two factors: (1) the risk consciously taken, and (2) the objective unreasonableness of taking it in the circumstances known to the accused.  A risk may be one of less than fifty per cent but may still be most unresoanble and therefore reckless: if D deliberately points a loaded gun at V, this would generally be regarded as reckless despite a less than fifty per cent chance of the gun going off.  Conversely, there may be high probabilithy of a consequence without recklessness if the risk is not unreasonable in the circumstances: a surgeon performing an operation with more than fifty per cent chance of death will not necessarily be reckless, as when, for example, he performs a dangerous operation on a consenting patient to save his sight, hearing or other faculty." (p. 24)


"[Autre possibilité
'Témérité.'  Une personne fait preuve de témérité à l'égard d'une conséquence ou des circonstances si, en agissant comme elle le fait, elle prend consciemment le risque que cette conséquence ou ces circonstances se réalisent, sachant que dans les circonstances, il est hautement déraisonnable de prendre ce risque.]
    Dans l'autre possibilité, la témérité est définie en fonction de deux facteurs: (1) la prise de conscience du risque et (2) le caractère objectivement déraisonnable de la prise du risque dans des circonstances connues de l'accusé.  Un risque peut être tout à fait déraisonnable -- et la prise de celui-ci constituer une conduite téméraire -- même si les chances de sa réalisation sont inférieures à cinquante pour cent: par exemple, on tiendra généralement pour téméraire le fait pour A de pointer un pistolet chargé vers V même si les risques d'un coup de feu sont inférieurs à cinquante pour cent.  D'un autre côté, la probabilité de réalisation d'une conséquence peut être très élevée sans que cela constitue pour autant de la témérité, si la prise du risque n'est pas déraisonnable dans les circonstances: ne fait pas nécessairement preuve de témérité le médecin qui pratique une opération bien que les chances de survie du patient soient très faibles si, par exemple, le patient y consent pour conserver la vue, l'ouïe ou une autre faculté." (p. 26)

Leary v. R., [1978] 1 S.C.R. (Canada Supreme Court Reports) 29; available at 1977 CanLII 2 (S.C.C.);

"The mental state basic to criminal liability consists in most crimes in either (a) an intention to cause the actus reus of the crime, i.e. an intention to do the act which constitutes the crime in question, or (b) foresight or realization on the part of the person that his conduct will probably cause or may cause the actus reus, together with assumption of or indifference to a risk, which in all of the circumstances is substantial or unjustifiable. This latter mental element is sometimes characterized as recklessness. (Mr. Justice Dickson, p. 34; emphasis added).
"L'état mental requis pour qu'il y ait responsabilité pénale consiste dans la plupart des cas dans a) l'intention d'accomplir l'actus reus du crime, c'est-à-dire l'intention d'accomplir l'acte qui constitue le crime en question, ou dans b) le fait que la personne prévoit ou sait que son comportement entraînera probablement ou pourra entraîner l'actus reus, tout en acceptant le risque ou en y étant indifférente alors que, dans les circonstances, le risque est considérable ou injustifiable. Cet état d'esprit est parfois qualifié d'indifférence à l'égard des conséquences de l'acte." (monsieur le juge Dickson, p. 34; j'ai ajouté l'emphase)

LOGOZ, Paul, 1888-,  Commentaire du Code pénal suisse, Partie Générale, 2e éd. mise à jour avec la collaboration d'Yves Sandoz, Neuchâtel : Delachaux & Niestlé, 1976, 569 p., ISBN: 2603000578;
    "Mais l'article 32 [du Code pénal suisse] va plus loin.  Il parle en outre de l'acte 'ordonné par un devoir de profession'.  On ne doit pas se méprendre sur le sens de cette disposition légale.

    Certaines conditions doivent être réalisées pour que l'auteur d'un acte dommageable soit fondé à invoquer le devoir professionnel, au sens de l'article 32.  La science médicale, par exemple, enseigne, elle indique les conditions auxquelles telle ou telle intervention du médecin se justifie à son point de vue; mais elle n'a pas pouvoir pour décider si un acte est juridiquement commandé ou permis, s'il est licite ou non (cf. Stoos, R. 23, 310ss).

    Néanmoins, il serait déraisonnable, par exemple, de punir pour lésions corporelles un médecin qui a opéré un malade dans un but curatif et en se conformant aux règles de son art.  De telles interventions sont certainement licites, parce qu'en reconnaissant l'exercice de la profession médicale, l'État fait implicetement connaître qu'il considère comme lcites tous les actes accomplis par le médecin et qui sont conformes aux règles professionnelles généralemnt admises; le médecin qui n'a fait qu'obéir à des règles (médicales, ou parfois aussi sociales, cf. THORMANN - VON OVERBECK, 138, note 9) peut dire: ' feci, sed jure feci ' (dans ce sens cf. notamment HAFTER, Allg. Teil, § 31 V; ROUX, 203, 210; RO 99 IV 210s).  Cf. aussi RO 70 II 209s (au sujet des risques qui peuvent être pris dans une opération chirurgicale).  Voir en outre RO 72 IV 178 (devoir du maître, comme éducateur).

    En revanche, si l'acte à juger sort du cadre tracé par les règles professionnelles généralement admises (exemple: stérilisation d'un homme ou d'une femme) et si les règles sur l'état de nécessité (art. 34, ch. 2) ne sont pas applicables, l'acte n'est licite que dans les cas où cela résulte d'une disposition légale spéciale (cf. art. 120 sur l'interruption de grossesse justifiée notamment par des motifs thérapeutiques; l'art. 32 n'est alors pas applicable, cf. art. 120 ch. 4; voir toutefois, infra, art. 34, note 9 i. f.)." (pp. 165-166)

MONGOLIA,  Criminal Code of Mongolia, available at (accessed on 13 April 2008);

Article 43. Reasonable Risk of Production, Research or Study

43.1. Causing damage to the rights and interests protected by law in result of a reasonable risk taken to attain the purpose beneficial to society shall not constitute a crime.

43.2. If the given purpose could not have been achieved without an act (omission) made with a risk and the person taking such risk has taken sufficient measures to prevent the harm it shall be a reasonable risk.

43.3. Taking risk under potential danger of harm to the lives of many people or a mass or a natural disaster shall not be recognized a reasonable risk.

PIRES, Alvaro P., "La rationalité pénale moderne, la société du risque et la juridisation de l'opinion publique", (2001) 33(1) Sociologie et société 179-204; disponible à (vérifié le 14 avril 2008);

PUERTO RICO, The Penal Code of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico of 2004, available at (accessed on 16 June 2006) / in Spanish/en espagnol: Codigo Penal del Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico -- Ley Num. 149 de 18 de Junio de 2004, available at (accessed on 16 June 2006);

    "Section 25.- Allowed Risk.- A person does not incur in liability when same has caused a result typified as a crime if said result does not constitute the production of sufficient and unlawful risk originated by his/her conduct."


    "Artículo 25. Riesgo permitido. No incurre en responsabilidad la persona que ha causado un resultado tipificado como delito si dicho resultado no constituye la realización de un riesgo suficiente y no permitido originado por su conducta."

R. v. Buzzanga and Durocher (1979) 49 C.C.C. (2d) 369 (Ontario Court of Appeal)

"[Recklessness consists of ] the subjective state of mind of a person who foresees that his conduct may cause the prohibited result but, nevertheless, takes a deliberate and unjustifiable risk of bringing it about...." (p. 379)

R. v. Hamilton, 2005 SCC 47 (CanLII), available at (accessed on 18 October 2007)

"The 'substantial and unjustified risk' standard of recklessness has venerable roots in Canada and in other common law jurisdictions as well: see, for example, Leary v. The Queen, 1977 CanLII 2 (S.C.C.), [1978] 1 S.C.R. 29, at p. 35 (Dickson J., as he then was, dissenting on other grounds); and, generally, M. L. Friedland and K. Roach, Criminal Law and Procedure: Cases and Materials (8th ed. 1997), at pp. 508 ff., where Herbert Wechsler explains, at pp. 510-11, why the American Law Institute required in its Model Penal Code that the risk consciously disregarded be both “substantial” and “unjustifiable”. (Fish, J.)"

RAMSEY, Carolyn B., "Homicide on Holiday: Prosecutorial Discretion, Popular Culture, and the Boundaries of the Criminal Law", (2002-2003) 54 The Hastings Law Journal 1641-1703;

ROBINSON, Paul H., 1948-,  "Prohibited Risks and Culpable Disregard or Inattentiveness: Challenge and Confusion in the Formulation of Risk-Creation Offenses", (January 2003) 4(1) Theoretical Inquiries in Law  367-396; available at (accessed on 21 November 2005);

___________Structure and Function in Criminal Law, Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1997, xxv, 251 p., and see "MIXING CONDUCT RULES OF RISK-CREATION WITH LIABILITY JUDGEMENTS OF RISK-TAKING: THE FAILURE TO DEFINE CRIMINAL RISKS", at pp. 148-155 (series; Oxford monographs on criminal law and criminal justice), ISBN:  0198258860;

RUSSIAN FEDERATION, Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, Transl. by William E. Butler. Introd. by William E. Butler and Maryann E. Gashi-Butler, 3rd ed., London: Simmonds & Hill; The Hague/London/Boston: Kluwer International, 1999, xxvi, 224 p., ISBN: 1898029407 (Simmonds and Hill) and 9041195025 (Kluwer Law International); importante contribution;

    "Article 41.  Substantiated Risk

    1.  The causing of harm to interests protected by a criminal law in the event of a substantiated risk in order to attain a socially useful purpose shall not be a crime.

    2.  A risk shall be deemed to be substantiated if the said purpose could not be achieved by actions (or failure to act) not connected with the risk and the person who permitted the risk undertook sufficient measures to prevent the harm to the interested protected by a criminal law.

    3.  A risk shall not be deemed to be substantiated if it knowingly was accompanied by a threat to the life of many people, a threat of ecological catastrophe, or social calamity." (pp. 18-19)

STOLL, Hans, "Grounds of Justification as a Defence to Liability -- German Law", in Journées d'études sur le droit de la responsabilité (1984: Gand, Belgique), Limpens, Jean, 1910-1979, Centre interuniversitaire de droit comparé, In  memoriam Jean Limpens : Studiedagen aansprakelijkheidsrecht, Gent, 23-24 maart 1984 = In memoriam Jean Limpens : Journées d'études sur le droit de la responsabilité, Gent, 23-24 mars 1984 = In memoriam Jean Limpens : Symposium on Civil Liability, Gent, 23-24 March 1984, Antwerpen : Kluwer rechtswetenschappen, 1987, xxvii, 311 p., at pp. 207-221, and see "Assumption of Risk", at pp. 217-220 (series; Interuniversitair Centrum voor Rechtsvergelijking; 12), (Collection; Centre interuniversitaire de droit comparé; 12), ISBN: 9063212879; copy at the Library of the Supreme Court of Canada, K923 Z9 I56 1987; civil law but useful for researchers;

TREIMAN, D.A., "Recklessness and The Model Penal Code", (1981) 9 The American Journal of Criminal Law 281-386, and see "Unjustifiable Risk", at pp. 334-336 and "Consciousness of the Unjustifiability of the Risk", at pp. 365-369 ;

"The unjustifiability of the risk is what makes the risk culpable, as the Commentary notes, even substantial risks do serve a proper purpose.  This is similar to the concept of necessity as a defence to a crime.  What makes the actor's conduct justifiable is a societal judgement that the behavior is not culpable because the balance of risks and benefits was made in a manner beneficial to society. ... To determine whether a risk is justifiable one must balance the potential harm against the potential gain.  This balance must be based on societal values, not the actor's value." (p. 334; notes omitted)

VAN GERVEN, Walter, Jeremy and Pierre Larouche, Cases, Materials and Text on National, Supranational and International Tort Law, Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2000, xcix, 969 p., see Chapter 7, "Defences", part 7.2, "Assumption of Risk", ISBN: 1841131393;  available at (accessed on 6 February 2006); and see also "Assumption of risk" (Comparative overview discussion) at pp. 733-736; civil law (tort law) but useful for researchers; copy at the Library of the Supreme Court of Canada, KJC1640 T672 2000;

WECHSLER, Herbert and Jerome Michael, "A Rationale of the Law of Homicide: I", (1937) 37 Columbia Law Review 701-767, see  at 746;
"Thus, the matter may be summarized as follows: when death is not intended, the desirability of preventing a particular act because it may result in death, turns upon the following factors: (1) the probability that death or serious injury will result; (2) the probability that the act will also have desirable results and the degree of their desirability, in the determination of which the actor's purposes are relevant; (3) if the act serves' desirable ends, its efficacy as a means, as opposed to the efficacy of other and less dangerous means.

    No legislature can make these evaluations in advance for all possible acts under all possible circumstances. However, it is clear that whatever ends are thought to justify intentional homicide, when it is reasonably believed to be a necessary means to those ends, also justify acts endangering life which are not intended to kill, when they are reasonably believed to be necessary means. On the other hand, when the actor's proximate end is itself criminal or otherwise undesirable¸ the use of means that involve a homicidal risk obviously cannot be justified.  The difficult cases are those in which the actor's ends are themselves desirable, or, at least, are not undesirable, though they would not justify intentional homicide as a means. Within this broad domain, the legislature may single out specific acts and proscribe them, regardless of the actual degree of probability of good or evil results in particular cases, and may regulate others, thus providing, in effect, that any risks whatever created by the acts, in the first case, or by disregarding the regulations, in the second, shall be unjustifiable. But this can only be done to a limited extent. Beyond this, the legislature can do no more than articulate the standard to be employed by administrators in passing upon particular acts under particular circumstances. With respect to this vast residuum of behavior, the legislature can say no more, in effect, than (1) it is desirable if it is prudent and undesirable if it is not; (2) whether or not it is prudent in particular cases depends upon the desirability of the actor's ends, the efficacy and necessity of his means, and the probability that death or serious injury will result; and (3) in view of the rigor of the sanctions of the criminal law the degree of imprudence should be substantial.  The difficulty of applying such a vague standard is diminished somewhat, however, by the fact that every society proceeds on some broad assumptions that provide a necessary starting point. Thus the modern world stands as firmly committed to such activities as machine production, the construction of tall buildings, the use of the automobile, the airplane and other mechanized forms of    transportation, as the ancient world was committed to the tise of the chariot and the wooden boat. Unless penal legislation and administration are to undertake to remake the world, in which case they had better do so explicitly, the risk of death inevitably incident to such activities must be regarded as justifiable and such death must be accepted as accidental. The object of prevention can only be the creation of  unnecessary risks by such activity. But these assumptions provide no more than a start. Once the risk is determined to be unnecessary, the difficult problem remains of determining whether or not the act creating  it was nevertheless prudent. Automobiles may be driven at many speeds and still be useful; but we frequently sanction driving at a speed that is not, in any strict sense, necessary for the use of the automobile." (pp. 744-746; notes omitted)

WILLIAMS, Glanville, 1911-1997, The Mental Element in Crime, Jerusalem: Magnes Press, The Hebrew University, 1965, 121 p. (series; The Hebrew University of  Jerusalem, Lionel Cohen Lectures, Eleventh Series - 1965);
"Section 2.02 [Model Penal Code -- definition of recklessness].  The only doubt that may be felt upon the definition is whether the draftsman was right in requiring that the risk disregarded should be not only unjustifiable but 'substantial.'   Generally, no doubt, a case of recklessness is not made out unless the risk disregarded is a substantial one, meaning something beyond a remote possibility.  This is because, on a charge of recklessness, the defendant will usually have been pursuing some lawful interest of his own; and the business of living one's own life (even though it be only, say, driving to the theatre) is usually regarded as having sufficient social value to justify the incurring of very slight risk of harmful consequences to others, without incurring the stigma of recklessness.  But where the conduct of the defendant plainly has no social value at all, but is designed deliberately to bring a risk upon others, for the sake of the perverted pleasure of the enterprise, a judgment of recklessness may be more readily forthcoming." (p. 31)
_____________Criminal Law: The General Part, 2nd ed., London: Stevens & Sons, 1961, xlvii, 929 p., see pp. 59-62;
"The conclusion is that knowledge of bare possibility is sufficient to convict of recklessness if the conduct has no social utility, but that the slightest social utility of the conduct will introduce an enquiry into the degree of probability of harm and a balancing of this hazard against the social utility.  If this is the law, it would be useless to define probability in mathematical terms, because the degree of probability that is to constitute recklessness must vary in each instance with the magnitude of the harm foreseen and the degree of utility of the conduct." (p. 62)
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