Joint Enterprise - Justice Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. On 19 October 2011 we announced our inquiry into the aspect of secondary liability in a criminal venture commonly known as joint enterprise. Our inquiry was prompted by dissatisfaction with the operation of the doctrine amongst campaigning groups. Concerns were expressed both by groups representing victims and groups representing those who believe they have been convicted following a miscarriage of justice.

2. Our terms of reference focused on four specific areas:

  • How often and in what types of cases is joint enterprise used?
  • Has the use of joint enterprise in charging defendants changed in recent years?
  • What would be the advantages and disadvantages of enshrining the doctrine in legislation?
  • What would be the impact of implementing the Law Commission's proposals as set out in Participating in Crime?[1]

3. We received 26 submissions from witnesses and held two oral evidence sessions with witnesses listed at the end of this Report. We are grateful to all those who took the time to contribute to our inquiry.

4. As will be clear from the terms of reference, the purpose of this inquiry was to investigate claims that the doctrine of joint enterprise was so unclear, or so complex, that its use could potentially cause injustice to either victims, and the families of victims, or defendants. It was described to us as a "complex and volatile" area of law.[2]

1   Law Commission paper No. 305, May 2007, Cm 7084 Back

2   Ev 43 Back

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Prepared 17 January 2012