Update on Joint Enterprise

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The Supreme Court in the UK

Professor William Wilson, Module Convenor for Criminal law, comments on the recent retrial in the Jogee case.

Students on the Undergraduate Laws Programme have heard a lot from me this year about the case of Jogee, in which the Supreme Court in January 2016 decided that the law relating to joint enterprise liability was contrary to principle. There has been a considerable reaction from the professions and the academic world about this case, most of it positive. The importance of Jogee is that it abolishes the rule that as a matter of law, in joint enterprise cases, the basis of liability is contemplation rather than intention. For example A, B and C are indicted for the murder of V, who was shot by C in the course of a joint enterprise to commit burglary on V’s house. For A and B to be complicit in this murder the prosecution must show that A and B intended C to kill or cause serious injury to V or to do so if it became necessary. The mere fact that A and B knew that C was carrying a gun and might use it to kill would be insufficient for murder although it would be sufficient for manslaughter. In other words the fault element in joint enterprise liability is the same as for accessoryship generally.

Professor William Wilson, Queen Mary University of London
Professor William Wilson, Queen Mary University of London

Instead of quashing Jogee’s conviction in January, as they were bound to given the seriousness of the case and the undeniable participation of Jogee in the attack which resulted in the killing, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial. This was heard last week at Nottingham Crown Court. The case for the prosecution was that the principal, Mohammed Hirsi had fatally stabbed a police officer after an altercation and Jogee had encouraged the attack by ‘egging him on’. The jury last week found Jogee not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. As the trial judge explained, this meant that the jury found that Jogee did not intend Hirsi to kill or cause serious injury to the police officer but did intend him to launch the attack and cause him some injury, albeit not serious injury. His life term was replaced by a sentence of 12 years. This verdict and the reasons for it is likely to set the basic template for cases such as this when, as violent arguments involving multiple parties are wont to, the argument escalates into murderous violence.

Read Professor Wilson’s full discussion of the case here.

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