Ashton v Turner (1981): the defence of illegality

Areas of applicable law: Tort law – Negligence- defence of illegality

Main arguments in this case: When a duty of care is not due to a claimant who sustained injuries.

The fact of the case: In this case both the claimant and the defendant were burglars. The defendant was driving the getaway car to flee from the scene of burglary but crashed the vehicle injuring the claimantThe claimant tried to sue the defendant for the injuries he had sustained but the court rejected the claim on the basis of ex turpi causa non oritur actio as the claimant himself was involved in an act which was a criminal act. It was held that the harm the claimant had suffered and the illegal act he was involved in at the time of the injury were both closely connected. Hence the defence of illegality was available.

One important aspect which forms the basis of the defence of illegality is due to the policy reasons. People would find it upsetting if a person who was committing a crime and gets injured in the course of committing that crime is able to sue.

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