Thursday, 19 January 2012
The Committee has now issued its report - "Joint Enterprise" - 11th report of Session 2010-12. The Preface to the report states - "Having examined the law in this area, and heard from witnesses who have recent experience of the operation of the doctrine, both as the victims of crime and as defendants’representatives, we have concluded that joint enterprise should be enshrined in statute to ensure clarity for all involved in the criminal justice system. While we recognise that there are particular problems with the operation of the joint enterprise doctrine and murder, we feel strongly that reform in this area should not have to wait for a wider review of the law on homicide."
In response to the report, the Director of Public Prosecutions issued a statement indicating that the CPS will now produce guidance on the approach it will take to cases of joint enterprise, including guidance on the proper threshold at which association potentially becomes evidence of criminality.
The Guardian 18th January carried an article - "When should one gang member take responsibility for the actions of the others?" The article states that
- "Central to the prosecution case in the Lawrence murder trial was the fact that it did not matter whether the pair had carried out the actual stabbing, but whether they were part of an attack that could clearly end in serious harm."
and, later ...
"We live in a punitive, post-riots world where there is little sympathy for anyone who hangs out in a gang. The argument is being made that the joint enterprise rule helps discourage young men from being part of knife-wielding gangs and that lives are being saved as a result. But the evidence the appeal courts will be hearing over the coming months will show that some young men who played, as the report has it, "a very minor part in a very serious offence", have a case that demands to be heard."
Law and Lawyers looked at Joint Enterprise previously: see Joint Enterprise 30th January 2010 and 30th July 2010.
It remains to be seen whether the Justice Committee's call for legislation will be heeded and, if so, what form it will take. This is, yet another, subject to which we shall doubtless return.
See blogpost - The Justice Gap - "Joint Enterprise: Confusing Juries and Courts" and "Tenuous Evidence: Unjustified Inferences"
Francis Fitzgibbon QC - "Joint Enterprise"
Panorama programme November 2009 – “Joint enterprise: who is guilty.”