As Ameen Jogee is sentenced for manslaughter after appealing his conviction for murder under Joint Enterprise law, a solicitor explains for ITV News Central what exactly it's all about.
By Andrew Wesley, Partner, VHS Fletchers Solicitors, Nottingham.
On 18 February the UK's highest court delivered a landmark ruling.
In a judgment the Court changed the wording of a criminal law that has caused injustice for many years.The appeal from Ameen Jogee was about what is commonly known as ‘joint enterprise.’
It’s used in cases where a person commits a crime, but a second person is involved in a different way, such as by encouragement.So, if two people had a physical fight, and a person was killed in the fight, the second person involved would be found guilty of murder – if he knew or thought the other person in the fight may have been about to kill the victim.
Although it was known that there were problems with the law, it was still used as a way of stopping people from getting involved in crime.In their decision, the Supreme Court accepted the law had been used incorrectly over the years, and ruled that as it was an error in common law, the Court could change it.
The Court explained that the error was ‘…equat[ing] foresight with an intention to assist, as a matter of law; the correct approach is to treat it as evidence of intent’.
Following the changes, the following rules now apply to the use of the joint enterprise ruling:A second offender must help the first offender in committing the offence in the first place.This second offender must know all the facts about the first offender's behaviour, and with that knowledge the second offender must have tried to assist or encourage the first to carry out the crime.
The decision to change the law came after many complaints that it was causing injustices across the UK.There was also pressure for changes from charities such as ‘Not Guilty By Association.’
The government even produced reports in 2012 and 2014, looking into the issue. This is when the award winning drama “Common” was first screened - to a now much more interested audience.Despite the changes, the court wanted to make sure it wouldn't mean those who were guilty, would get away with their crimes.
They also said they wouldn't be looking back at cases from the past unless there were exceptional circumstances, because this was the law at the time.Despite this, there are other cases in the pipeline which there could be a result on before the end of the year.
This article is by Andrew Wesley, Partner, VHS Fletchers Solicitors, Nottingham, and may not reflect the views of ITV News Central.