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PI Practitioner: Ex Turpi Causa Oritur Actio - Nicholas Dobbs, Temple Garden Chambers

14/06/22. In Lewis-Ranwell v G4S Health Services (UK) Ltd & Ors, the First, Third, and Fourth Defendants applied for an order striking out the claim against them on the grounds of illegality, ‘ex turpi causa non oritur actio’ (out of a dishonourable cause no action arises). The Claimant had killed three men in their homes whilst suffering delusional beliefs about them. He made numerous allegations of negligence against each of the Defendants, in essence arguing that they were negligent in their assessment or treatment of him before he went on to inflict violence on others. He sought damages for personal injury, loss of liberty, loss of reputation and loss of dignity, and indemnity in respect of any claim brought against him as a consequence of his violent actions.

At the Claimant’s trial in the Crown Court, the issue for the jury was whether he was guilty of manslaughter, by reason of diminished responsibility, or not guilty of murder by reason of insanity. The jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity on the basis that, although he was labouring under a defect of reason, he knew the nature and quality of his actions when he killed the three men but, did not know that what he was doing was unlawful. Following his acquittal on the grounds of insanity, the court, acting in accordance with the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964, made a hospital order with restrictions and the Claimant was detained at Broadmoor hospital.

The applications for strike out were ultimately refused by Mr Justice Garnham, who reviewed relevant authorities (at [70] to [126]) before summarising the principles emerging from his review (at [127]). It was held (at [129]) that a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity was, unequivocally, a verdict that a defendant was not...

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