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Judgment handed down in Lewis-Ranwell v G4S Health Services & Others (2024)

News | Tue 20th Feb, 2024

The Court of Appeal has today handed down its long-awaited judgment in Lewis-Ranwell v G4S Health Services & Others (2024). It held, by a majority of 2 to 1, that a person who deliberately and unlawfully kills whilst insane is not barred by the defence of illegality from suing mental health services for allegedly failing to treat him properly.

Underhill LJ, giving the leading judgment (with which Sharp LJ agreed), acknowledged that the question was not an easy one but held that as a matter of legal coherence and public confidence the law does not and should not generally apply the illegality defence where the Claimant does not know what they are doing is wrong and has no moral culpability for their actions.

Andrews LJ, dissenting, considered that as a matter of public policy there is nothing disproportionate about precluding someone who intended to kill, and did so, from bringing a claim in negligence in reliance on their deliberate and unlawful act. She concluded that the policy rule preventing such claims should not rest on nice distinctions between having little or no personal responsibility because of the state of the Claimant’s mental health at the time.

This is the first time in English legal history that the Court of Appeal has been asked to rule on this issue. 

Andrew Warnock KC and Jack Harding of Deka Chambers represented Devon County Council.

Gurion Taussig of Deka Chambers represented G4S Health Services.

You can read the judgment here.

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