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Title: Joint criminal enterprise in English and German law
Author: Krebs, Beatrice
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 6289
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis explores the English doctrine of joint criminal enterprise by way of a comparative study. Joint enterprise allows for the conviction of an accomplice (S) of an offence (crime B) committed by his associate-in-crime (P) on the basis of S's foresight of its commission by P as a possible incident to their joint criminal venture (crime A). While it is generally accepted that this common law principle needs reforming, successive governments have declined to take on the task. Against this backdrop, this thesis explores whether the contentious features of joint enterprise liability might be reformed by way of common law development. To this end, the thesis examines the doctrine's constituent elements, its function, underlying rationale and place within the structure of primary and secondary liability. Particular emphasis is put on the specific problems associated with the application of joint enterprise liability in the context of murder. Looking at the functional equivalents of joint enterprise in German law, the thesis challenges the orthodox view that joint enterprise is a head of liability available to the prosecution alongside co-perpetration and aiding and abetting. Indeed, it argues that an inculpatory function of the principle is difficult to justify and suggests that, both historically and as a matter of principle, it is better seen as an exculpatory device aimed at delineating the scope of co-perpetration and aiding and abetting. The thesis concludes that the current law does not serve this function very well, as its mens rea threshold (some form of recklessness, when proof of intention is needed to convict the principal offender) sets the hurdle for conviction of secondary parties indefensibly low. Informed by ideas taken from German law - especially an extended concept of intention known as dolus eventualis - the thesis's principal contention is that English law would do better defining joint enterprise liability in terms of foresight plus endorsement. Indeed, the thesis aims to show that English law was very close to such a conception, and that the common law took a wrong turn in Powell. It concludes that it is still open to the Supreme Court to adopt an endorsement-focussed approach to joint enterprise liability, thereby alleviating concerns that the law in this area is too harsh and over-inclusive, and bringing it closer to the threshold of liability for principal offenders which requires proof of intention. Such an approach would also make the law of complicity more principled and coherent.
Supervisor: Lamond, Grant Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available