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Joint Enterprise – a landmark ruling with major implications

By Tim Walker  |  03.07.2016

A new Supreme Court ruling has changed the way that joint enterprise will be viewed in the courts. The judgement handed down by the Supreme Court in R v Jogee [2016] UKSC 8 will have major implications for those awaiting trial. Here’s an overview of the case.

Back in 2012, Ameen Jogee was convicted of murder along with his friend Mohammed Hirsi, and both were given life sentences. What was unusual about the case was that Jogee didn’t actually wield the knife that killed Paul Fyfe – he was convicted because he’d urged his friend to attack Mr Fyfe.

Is encouragement enough?

This conviction was secured under the principle of ‘joint enterprise’, in a precedent set over 30 years ago in a Hong Kong murder appeal.  There, Privy Council judges decided that if two people set out to commit an offence and in the course of it, one of them commits another offence, the second person is guilty as an accessory even if he didn’t intend it to happen, if he foresaw the outcome as a possibility.

This interpretation of the law has led to many murder convictions in cases where individuals who have not been the main culprit have been found guilty as secondary parties.

The supreme court take action

After losing appeals in the High Court and Appeal Court, criminal lawyers acting for Ameen Jogee took the case to the Supreme Court. Their appeal was successful and as a result, the law has now been rewritten, putting right what was described in the judgement as a ‘wrong turn’ made by those senior judges back in the 80s.

Joint Enterprise – how the law stands now

  • The second person must have encouraged or assisted with commission of the offence.
  • It’s no longer enough for the second person to have just foreseen the possibility of the offence that was committed.
  • To be convicted, the second person must have the requisite intention to assist or encourage the first person in the offence that was committed.

What happens now?

Whilst we’re not going to see a large number of convictions overturned following this decision, it will have wide-reaching consequences, particularly in multi-defendant murder cases. If you’d like to read more about this ruling, check out Joshua Rozenburg’s article for the Guardian here.

Talk to Tim Walker on 020 7481 9157

If you or someone you know might be effected this new rule on joint enterprise, please get in contact. At Sonn Macmillan Walker, we’re really experienced when it comes to conducting murder defence cases. In the last year alone we’ve handled seven murder cases, many of those involving joint enterprise. Whether you need help or just want to find out more about this ruling, give me a call.

18/02/2016 | Tim Walker

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