The Supreme Court have ruled that the Joint Enterprise law, which has allowed people to be convicted of murder even if they did not deliver the fatal blow, has been wrongly interpreted for more than 30 years.
The joint enterprise law has been used to convict people in gang-related cases where it could be argued that the defendant ‘could’ have foreseen that their associates would commit violent acts. Supreme Court judges have now ruled that this ‘foresight’ test was wrong and should not have been used.
It is expected that hundreds of prisoners will be able to seek Appeals due to this change in the joint enterprise law, with some prisoners receiving lesser convictions and others having their convictions quashed entirely.
The decision follows five Supreme Court Judges considering the case of Ameen Jogee, who was given a life sentence under a joint enterprise conviction for the murder of former Leicestershire police officer Paul Fyfe in 2011.
Jogee was accused of encouraging his friend, Mohammed Hirsi, who stabbed Paul Fyfe in the heart. Hirsi also received a life sentence.
Jogee argued that he was not in the house at the time of the offence, and could not have foreseen what Hirsi intended to do.
Joint enterprise law has been used in several high profile cases, including the murder of Stephen Lawrence, whereby David Norris and Gary Dobson were both convicted under joint enterprise in 2012 for his 1993 murder.
Lord Neuberger, when delivering this new judgment on joint enterprise law, said that it was wrong to treat foresight as a sufficient test to convict someone of murder:
“The court is satisfied after a much fuller review of the law than in the earlier cases that the courts took a wrong turn in 1984. And it is the responsibility of this court to put the law right.”
Jogee’s conviction has been set aside, meaning his original conviction no longer stands. The ruling does not mean that Jogee or others who similarly should not have been convicted under the joint enterprise law will walk free – Jogee was found to be unquestionably guilty of manslaughter and potentially guilty of murder on other grounds.
Lord Neuberger further confirmed that:
“A person who joins in a crime, which any reasonable person would realise involves a risk of harm, and death then results, is guilty at least of manslaughter.”
It is also important to note that a person who intentionally encourages or assists with the committing of a crime is as guilty as the person who physically commits the crime, and that this ruling on joint enterprise does not mean that all joint enterprise convictions are unsafe.
If you would like to discuss joint enterprise law in relation to a loved one, call our expert team now on 01623 397200.