Supreme Court to rule on 'joint enterprise' principle raised in Ian McEwan novel


Supreme Court justices are preparing to give their views on a legal issue highlighted by one of the UK's most famous writers in a novel about a judge.

A ruling on the principle of ''joint enterprise'' - which can result in someone being convicted of assault or murder even though they did not administer the blow - is scheduled to be published on Thursday.

Novelist Ian McEwan aired the issue in his 2014 book The Children Act, which centres on High Court judge Fiona Maye, who is asked to decide whether a 17-year-old Jehovah's Witness should have medical treatment against his wishes.

A panel of five Supreme Court justices analysed the issue at a hearing in London in October when considering an appeal by a man who was convicted of murder after egging on a friend to stab a former policeman.

Ameen Jogee and Mohammed Hirsi, both in their 20s, were given life sentences at Nottingham Crown Court in March 2012 after being convicted of Paul Fyfe's murder.

Jurors heard that Hirsi stabbed Mr Fyfe at a house in Leicester in June 2011 while being egged on by Jogee.

A judge imposed a minimum 22-year term on Hirsi, who lived in Leicester, and a minimum of 20 years on Jogee, who was of no fixed address.

Jogee's minimum term was cut to 18 years by the Court of Appeal.

McEwan raised the issue through a character in The Children Act - barrister Mark Berner QC, who is a friend of Mrs Justice Maye and has a client who was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm after becoming embroiled in a fight involving eight men.

''The prosecution pushed for joint enterprise,'' Berner tells Mrs Justice Maye in the novel. ''Same old story. My client played no part in that violence.''

A lawyer who specialises in criminal cases has said a review of law and practice relating to joint enterprise is ''long overdue''.

Sandra Paul, who works for law firm Kingsley Napley, said the Supreme Court ruling will have ''important consequences''.

A Supreme Court spokesman said a ruling on the Jogee case would be handed down at the Supreme Court in London.