Gray v Thames Trains [2009]

  • Created by: channyx
  • Created on: 20-03-20 14:44

A rule of law that was based on public policy and which was an aspect of the principle of ex turpi causa precluded a person from recovering compensation either for losses suffered in consequence of his own criminal act or for damage that was the consequence of a sentence imposed on him for a criminal act. A claimant who had committed manslaughter as a result of psychological problems caused by the negligence of a third party was therefore precluded from recovering from that third party general damages and loss of earnings flowing from his crime.

The appellant train operator (T) appealed, and the respondent (G) cross-appealed against a decision that a rule of law prevented G from recovering general damages, but did not prevent him from recovering special damages for loss of earnings, in consequence of his own criminal act.

G had been a passenger on a train involved in the Ladbroke Grove rail crash. The train was operated by T and the accident had been caused by T's negligence. Although G sustained only minor injuries, the experience caused him to suffer PTSD. While he was receiving treatment and taking medication for that condition he stabbed to death a pedestrian who had stepped into the path of his car. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility caused by PTSD and was sentenced to be detained in hospital. In an action for negligence against T he claimed general damages for his conviction, detention and feelings of guilt and remorse, and for damage to his reputation. He claimed special damages in respect of his loss of earnings until the date of trial and continuing, and he sought an indemnity against any claims which might be brought by dependants of his victim.

The trial judge decided that a rule of law based on public policy precluded a person from recovering, in consequence of his own criminal act, both general and special damages. The Court of Appeal held that it was bound by the decision in Clunis v Camden and Islington to find that recovery of general damages was precluded, while recovery of loss of earnings was not. The issue was whether the…


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