Regina v. Dudley and Stephens
Queen’s Bench Division
14 Q.B.D. 273 (1884)
Thomas Dudley and Edwin Stephens (defendants) were on the crew of an English yacht, along with fellow seamen Brooks and Richard Parker. Due to a storm, the men were lost at sea in an open boat for approximately twenty-four days. They had no water except for occasional rainwater, and little food. After over a week without any food, Dudley and Stephens approached Parker, who was sick and in a much weaker state, and slit his throat. The three remaining men fed off Parker’s body for four days until a passing ship rescued them. Dudley and Stephens were put on trial in order to determine whether the act of killing Parker was murder. The jury determined that the men would not have survived to the time of rescue if they had not fed off Parker’s body and that, at the time, it was reasonable to assume they would die of starvation before they were rescued. The jury also determined that Parker would likely have died before the other three men. The jury made these conclusions of fact but was ultimately unable to reach a verdict as to Dudley and Stephens’ culpability. It instead submitted a special verdict requesting the court to determine Dudley and Stephens’s culpability based on its findings of fact.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Coleridge, C.J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 175,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.