Areas of applicable law: Tort law – Duty of care – Defence of illegality.
Main arguments in this case: A claimant cannot claim damages for an act which arose due to his own illegal act or participation in it.
The facts of the case: The claimant was prevented from claiming damages for personal injuries when the defendant’s drunken driving caused an accident, because the claimant had encouraged the defendant to drive dangerously.
The claimant and the defendant had both been drinking heavily before they rode home on the defendant’s motorbike. The claimant was a pillion passenger and he knew that the defendant did not have a driving licence, or insurance. On the road to home the defendant was weaving across while the claimant was encouraging him to do so. The bike had a collision with a car and the defendant sustained fatal injuries and died of them while the claimant was severely injured. The claimant brought an action against the defendant for personal injuries and claimed damages.
The claim was declined by the Court of Appeal on the basis of ex turpi causa, the defence of illegality. The claimant not only knew that the defendant was driving illegally but he (the claimant) was also encouraging the defendant to drive dangerously and therefore was committing a crime which consequently caused the harm to him and hence there was no claim for liability.