On 18th February 2016 an unprecedented joint judgment of the UK Supreme Court and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council held that the principle of parasitic accessorial liability (PAL) (or, in common parlance, ‘joint enterprise’), by which a secondary party (S) was guilty of murder if he foresaw that the principal (P) might kill, even if S did not intend it, was wrong. The Court unanimously ruled that the PAL principle, first espoused by the Privy Council in Chan Wing-Siu v The Queen  1 AC 168 and later applied by the House of Lords R v Powell and English  1 AC 1 (and other cases) represented a wrong turning in the law. The Court held that the correct principle to be that foresight is simply a rule of evidence on the issue of whether S intended to assist or encourage P to commit murder, which is the necessary mens rea in order for S to be guilty of murder.
Julian B. Knowles QC appeared in the Privy Council appeal for Shirley Ruddock. He conceived and argued the submissions which led to the Court’s decision. He was also junior counsel in the Powell and English appeal in 1997.