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Gray v Thames Trains & Ors, Court of Appeal, 25 June 2008

17 July 2008
The issues

Ex Turpi Causa – claim for loss of earnings – whether Claimant could claim for loss of earnings when he had been convicted of manslaughter.

The facts

The Claimant was involved in the Ladbrook Road rail crash. He suffered a severe post-traumatic stress disorder causing him to undergo a significant personality change and later stabbed a stranger to death. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was detained in a hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983. He brought a claim against the Defendants on the basis that, but for the post-traumatic stress disorder, he would have earned more than he had done after the accident. Liability was admitted, as was the claim for loss of earnings up to the date of the manslaughter. The losses after were denied on the basis of Ex Turpi Causa. The Judge found for the Defendant on the issue.

The Claimant appealed.

The decision

It was not argued that the cause of action arose from an illegal act.

The question was whether the loss was inextricably linked with the illegal act. The Claimant’s case was merely that he had suffered a loss because he had suffered a loss of earnings before and after the date of the manslaughter and was entitled to recover the whole of that loss from the Defendants. It was not the case that the act of manslaughter was inextricably bound up with that claim. Where the manslaughter did not break the chain of causation or where there was contributory fault on the part of the Claimant of less than 100% so that the claim was not inextricably bound up with or linked with the criminal conduct, public policy did not prohibit recovery. There was nothing in Clunis v Campden and Islington Health Authority inconsistent with that reasoning, which was supported by the decision in Crosse v Kirkby Times. It followed that a claim was not defeated by public policy unless the claim or head of claim was inextricably bound up with or linked with the criminal conduct.

Appeal allowed.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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