Court of appeal ruling on joint enterprise cases

Earlier this month the court of appeal delivered judgments on a series of cases concerning the controversial ‘joint enterprise’ rule, under which accomplices can be found guilty of murder even if they do not participate directly in the fatal attack.

These decisions concerned whether  13 joint enterprise cases should be reviewed in light of the decision of the Supreme Court earlier this year (R v Jogee), where it was held that judges had been misapplying the law (and misdirecting juries)  for 30 years and that foresight of a fatal attack was not necessarily enough for a jury to convict a defendant of murder.

In fact the Court of Appeal decided that none of those cases should be reviewed. To some extent the decisions of the Court of Appeal come as little surprise given that the Supreme Court was clear when handing down the judgment in Jogee  that review of individual convictions would  be on the basis of substantial injustice in individual cases and that was by no means an automatic consequence of the misdirection of the jury (as  the decision may well have been the same even if the jury was directed correctly).

However, the decisions have disappointed those who argue that the joint enterprise rule is unfair .

If you would like to find out more about the joint enterprise rule and the recent judgments by the Court of Appeal then why not listen to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Law in Action’ programme on the subject.


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