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Murphy v Culhane

[1977] QB 94

Case summary last updated at 18/01/2020 18:12 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Murphy v Culhane

P showed that D had beaten and killed her husband by manslaughter (from D’s guilty plea at trial), whereas D said this came about from the husband’s and other’s joint criminal intent to assault D, so that ex turpi causa non oritur actio and/or volenti non fit injuria applied. P had been given, at first instance, permission to proceed straight to damages without regard for the defences, but CA overturned this, saying that if D’s husband had been killed by taking part in a criminal affray the defences of ex turpi causa non oritur actio and volenti non fit injuria may apply and the facts should be investigated. Also contributory negligence may apply, so that the facts need investigation.

 Lord Denning MR: Damages are not reduced by provocation. However the full defences may apply.  

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