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Revill v Newbery [1996] 2 WLR 239 Court of Appeal

Mr Newbery was a 76 year old man. He owned an allotment which had a shed in which he kept various valuable items. The shed was subject to frequent break ins and vandalism. Mr Newbery had taken to sleeping in his shed armed with a 12 bore shot gun.

Mr Revill was a 21 year old man who on the night in question, accompanied by a Mr Grainger, went to the shed at 2.00 am in order to break in. Mr Newbery awoke, picked up the shot gun and fired it through a small hole in the door to the shed. The shot hit Mr Revill in the arm. It passed right through the arm and entered his chest. Both parties were prosecuted for the criminal offences committed. Mr Revill pleaded guilty and was sentenced. Mr Newbery was acquitted of wounding. Mr Revill brought a civil action against Mr Newbery for the injuries he suffered. Mr Newbery raised the defence of ex turpi causa, accident, self-defence and contributory negligence.

Held:

The Claimants action was successful but his damages were reduced by 2/3 under the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945 to reflect his responsibility for his own injuries.
 
On the application of ex turpi causa Neill LJ:
 
"For the purposes of the present judgment I do not find it necessary to consider further the joint criminal enterprise cases or the application of the doctrine of ex turpi causa in other areas of the law of tort. It is sufficient for me to confine my attention to the liability of someone in the position of Mr. Newbery towards an intruding burglar. It seems to me to be clear that, by enacting section 1 of the 1984 Act, Parliament has decided that an occupier cannot treat a burglar as an outlaw and has defined the scope of the duty owed to him. As I have already indicated, a person other than an occupier owes a similar duty to an intruder such as Mr. Revill. In paragraph 32 of their 1976 Report the Law Commission rejected the suggestion that there should be no duty at all owed to a trespasser who was engaged in a serious criminal enterprise."
 
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