Participation in Crime

35 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2019

See all articles by Antje du Bois-Pedain

Antje du Bois-Pedain

University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 9, 2019


This paper focuses – from a comparative and theoretical perspective – on the principles that govern the ascription of criminal responsibility to different parties involved in the commission of a crime. It has the twofold objective of introducing readers to the main doctrinal frameworks for the regulation of participation in crime in two well-known jurisdictions (England and Germany), as well as the theoretical foundations proposed for them, and of making the case for a reworked differentiated system based on separate doctrines of criminal participation formulated for three different participatory paradigms: acting through another, acting with another, and acting alongside another. It argues that the main flaws in existing doctrines of participation arise from a failure to recognise that it is inappropriate to apply them across the entire range of multi-party scenarios to which they are currently applied. However, the counsel of some defenders of unitary perpetrator systems – that we should give up on the very project of distinguishing between different modes of liability-ascription for parties to crime on account of the practical difficulties to which they all give rise – is a counsel of despair. Once the areas of application for the different participatory paradigms are appropriately demarcated, distinct sets of rules and principles for each of these paradigms enable the resolution of various disputed issues and seemingly intractable difficulties that beset this area of law.

Keywords: criminal participation (England, Germany, comparative), complicity, escalating violence, joint enterprise, extended common purpose, unitary perpetrator systems, R. v. Jogee, paradigms of responsibility-ascription, acting through another, acting with another, acting alongside another

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

du Bois-Pedain, Antje, Participation in Crime (January 9, 2019). University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 6/2019. Available at SSRN: or

Antje Du Bois-Pedain (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

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