Having considered the requirements for a charge of murder or manslaughter it is necessary to consider possible defenses that may be raised against a charge of murder, which might either extinguish the charge entirely of reducing the charge to a lesser charge of manslaughter. In this instance, it is necessary to consider provocation, automatism and diminished responsibility. If Neil had thrown the first punch, then it would also be necessary to consider the possibility of self-defense. It will also be necessary to consider the law in relation to the chain of causation, as a break in the chain can lead to the accused being exonerated from causing the death of the victim.
When relying on proving that the chain of causation has been broken the accused has to show that their actions were no longer the primary cause of the victim’ s death. This has been successfully argued in cases where the victim has subsequently died as a direct result of negligent treatment at the hospital. The courts have held that the chain of causation has been broken where the actions of a third party or of the victim have led to the death.
Third party actions can include incorrect medical treatment. Defence lawyers rely on case law to establish a break in the chain as was demonstrated in Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd  in which the court concluded that the actions of the deceased had broken the chain. The victim in this instance took his own life as he was unable to live with the disfiguring injuries sustained following an incident in his workplace. His widow had attempted to hold the company liable for his death on the grounds that they had failed to address his depression.
However, the court disagreed stating that the foreseeability that he would commit suicide was too remote and therefore his death should be treated under the principle of Novus actus inteveniens. The case of R v Ogunbowale  demonstrated how an intervening event can also lead to a break in the chain of causation.
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