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The judgement by the Court of Appeal in the case of Joyce v O’Brien & Tradex Insurance Company Ltd was handed down on 17 May 2013.
The decision by Lord Justice Elias, Lady Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Ryder on this case was to uphold the first ruling: a claimant cannot bring about a case for damages for injuries caused by another when both were part of a joint criminal enterprise.
First, let’s look at the facts of the case. The claimant (nephew) and the defendant (uncle) stole a set of ladders. The length of the ladders meant that they were unable to completely fit in the back of the getaway vehicle, a van in this case and subsequently, the doors were unable to close. The nephew therefore, stood on the back of the van with one door open supporting the ladders while the uncle drove recklessly to escape the scene. The uncle was being followed and a witness explained that coupled with dangerous driving and sharp corners, the nephew lost balance, fell from the van and suffered serious head injuries. The uncle continued driving the van, unloaded the ladders in a side street and returned to help his nephew. It was held that this last action confirmed that both men were part of a joint criminal enterprise and the claim for negligence was unsuccessful due to the ex turpi causa doctrine.
The issues raised in this case are whether ex turpi applies? Was the defendant negligent? Is it moral for a claimant to pursue damages for injuries sustained during a joint criminal enterprise?
To understand that the decision was correct, I must first explain the law of negligence and ex turpi causa.
Negligence
To bring a successful claim for negligence, four elements have to be satified: duty of care (DoC), breach of duty (BoC), causation and ha...

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...from their crime, shown in Murphy v Culhane4. This principle is less significant in tort law as generally, tort law is concerned with compensating loss rather than the claimant making gains. However, in claim for indemnity, it can be applied to prevent claimant being relieved of the consequences of their crime.
The proportionality test looks to see if the decision being made is proportionate to the damages caused. This is shown in Lane v Holloway5
The public conscience test looks to see if it would offend the public is the courts allowed the claim to succeed. Shown in Thackwell v Barclays Bank Plc6. This was later rejected in favour of the reliance test shown in Tinsley v Milligan7.
The statutory influence test looks at whether other other areas of law that may conflict with ex turpi causa as shown in Revill v Newbery8.
These tests show that ex turpi causa do not a

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