February 19, 2016

Joint Enterprise Ruling

Widely reported in the national press has been the Supreme Court’s ruling that a part of Joint Enterprise Law has been incorrectly interpreted for the last 30 years.

What is the Joint Enterprise Law?

A very complex area of criminal law, the doctrine of joint enterprise refers to the situation whereby more than one person takes part in a criminal event. In a subsequent prosecution joint enterprise allows for individuals to be convicted by association to the crime.

Broadly speaking there are three main types of joint enterprise, namely:

  • Where two or more individuals join together to commit a single crime.
  • Where an individual encourages or assists another individual to commit a single crime
  • Where two individuals commit a crime during the course of which one of the Individuals commits a second crime the other could have foreseen happening.

 History of the Joint Enterprise Law

Joint enterprise is a very old law introduced hundreds of years ago as a deterrent to stop aristocrats from duelling by allowing everyone involved in the duel to be charged with murder.

The controversy of Join Enterprise

The law has long been contentious with many calling it out of date. In recent times increased scrutiny has been placed on joint enterprise due to its use in gang related crimes and the disproportionately high convictions of young black or mixed race men. The part of the law which convicted people for having foresight of what the primary accused may do has come under particular scrutiny.

Judicially the argument that the law needed reviewing was based on the question of whether it is deemed just that someone could be convicted of murder without physically taking part.

 Supreme Court ruling

In an important and landmark ruling the Supreme Court have declared that the test and rules used by judges for assessing guilt in the scenario whereby a defendant could have foresight of a murder taking place have been misinterpreted and incorrectly applied.

The ruling has led to the possibility that hundreds of convictions could be challenged if they were convicted under this category of evidential rules.

Joint Enterprise Solicitors

If you are facing a criminal prosecution involving joint enterprise or you wish to discuss the grounds for appealing a conviction in light of the new ruling please contact the expert defence team at Qamar Solicitors.