Joint enterprise is a doctrine of common law dating back several centuries that has been developed by the courts to allow for more than one person to be charged and convicted of the same crime.
If it can be proved that the participants were working together in some way, then they are all guilty of all the crimes committed during the course of their joint enterprise, regardless of the role they played.
Unlike the crime of conspiracy, in which the offence consists of merely agreeing to commit a crime, in joint enterprise all parties are convicted of the actual offence, for example: murder.
Until now, there has been no information on the reach of this powerful part of the criminal justice system, which a former Lord Chief Justice describes as ‘capable of producing injustice’.
On April 1 the Bureau will publish the results of its investigation, including a report revealing how extensively joint enterprise is used in homicide cases and the growing concern about its use.