The rule of public policy, expressed by the maxim “ex turpi causa non oritur actio” [an action does not arise from a base cause], prevents a person who has unlawfully killed another from acquiring a benefit in consequence of that killing.

The rule is intended to act as a disincentive to criminal activity and to reflect public conscience.

In one of the leading authorities on the subject (Cleaver v Mutual Rescue Fund Life Association [1892] 1 QB 147), Fry LJ stated, at 156: “It appears to me that no system of jurisprudence can within reason include amongst the rights which it enforces rights directly resulting to the person asserting them from the crime of that person.”

Apart from murder, th...

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