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Curious Legal Point


It is a principle of English law, at least as old as the year 1799 (Merryweather v. Nixon, 8 Term. Rep. 186), that, upon grounds of public policy, one wrong-doer cannot have redress or contribution from another in respect of the joint wrongdoing. A Divisional Court have recently held in Burrows v. Rhodes (1899, 68 L.J.Q.B. 545), a case arising out of Dr. Jameson's raid, that this rule does not apply where an innocent person has, by the fraudulent misrepresentation of others, been induced to take part with them in the commission of a criminal offence which is merely malum quia prohibitum, and for which he has been neither tried nor convicted, and that probably the case would have been the same even if he had been so tried and convicted. In the course of an extremely able judgment in this case, Mr. Justice Kennedy raised an interesting point under the Lunacy Act, 1890. A person who receives two or more lunatics into his house, not being a registered house or licensed house or asylum, commits an indictable offence, even if he acts under a bonâ fide and reasonable belief that the persons so received are not lunatics at all (Queen v. Bishop, 1880, 5 Q.B.D. 259). Suppose that in such a case the belief had been induced by false and fraudulent representations on the part of the person bringing the patients, would he be liable to an action for damages at the instance of the proprietor of the house? Mr. Justice Kennedy thinks that this question should be answered in the affirmative. It certainly ought to be.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Curious Legal Point

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