Murder appeals being heard at the Supreme Court over the next three days will have ‘important consequences’ for the controversial principle of joint enterprise, some lawyers believe.
In R v Jogee (appellant), the Supreme Court is considering whether the prosecution must prove that the secondary offender, who encouraged the primary offender to commit some harm, foresaw the primary offender’s acquisition and use of a weapon for murder as ‘probable’ rather than ‘possible’ in order to establish joint enterprise.
In Ruddock (appellant) v The Queen (respondent) (Jamaica), the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is considering whether the appellant’s conviction for joint enterprise murder is unsafe after a taxi driver was murdered and his car was stolen.
Sandra Paul (pictured), a criminal lawyer at London firm Kingsley Napley, said a review of the law and practice concerning joint enterprise was ‘long overdue’.
Though Paul described the principle of joint enterprise as ‘the lazy prosecutor’s dream’, she said she was unable to argue that it was ‘redundant’.
‘The doctrine is also being used in a variety of other areas such as curbing protesters, fixing benchmarks and other fraud cases where it is easier to demonstrate participation and encouragement than the common purpose required for a conspiracy,’ she said.
‘However I do believe the application of the principle of joint enterprise to the most serious of offences such as murder and GBH requires boundaries and careful application if it is to avoid unjust outcomes.’
R v Jogee, she said, ‘will have very important consequences in this respect’.