R v Woollin: An Analysis of the Concept of Oblique Intention in the English Legal System

Dr. Abdulrahman Alhajri
Assistant Professor – Kuwait International Law School


Oblique intention is a relatively uncommon aspect of intent to consider. The guidelines for applying the concept have been negotiated and renegotiated in particular cases, including that of R v Woollin, which remains the leading case for this area of the law. A body of literature exists that discusses the topic from the perspective of the legislation in different countries, but the recent literature dedicated to it is relatively scarce, and it does not consider certain countries, including Kuwait, which calls for additional investigation.
The paper present analyses the case R v Woollin and attempts to determine its effect on the law as related to murder trials. Then, it proceeds to discuss different approaches to oblique intention in several countries: France, Egypt and Kuwait. The review of primary sources (R v Woollin and other cases, as well as the Kuwaiti and French penal code) and secondary ones constitutes the methodological approach of the article. The concept of direct intention is discussed and compared to that of oblique intention. Further, the term “oblique intention” is investigated to determine whether it is a definition or evidence of intention.
The primary conclusion is that the law is satisfactorily capable of assisting the jury in determining intention, but it still fails to define the key terms that it uses and may result in inclusivity issues. Additional conclusions are that there are significant differences in the way individual countries approach the concept, which offers opportunities for improvement.
The paper contributes to the investigation of oblique intention and related guidelines, including those of Kuwait, and contains implications for their improvement, which are supported by some reliable sources on the topic. It also highlights the problems associated with the definition of intent in general and oblique intent in particular.

Keywords: oblique intention, law, jury, judges, criminal.

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