Definition of ex turpi causa non oritur actio: Legal principle that one knowingly engaged in an illegal activity may not claim damages arising out of that activity. Ex turpi causa non oritur actio. A Latin phrase loosely translated as “no cause of action can arise from a base cause,” which indicates that no action in tort is. Ex turpi causa non oritur actio is a Latin term which means “from a dishonorable cause an action does not arise.” This legal doctrine states that a person will be.

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Providing resources for studying law. Ex turpi causa non oritur actio.


The latin maxim ex turpi causa non oritur actio refers to the fact that no action may be founded on illegal or immoral conduct. This maxim applies not only to tort law but also to contract, restitution, property and trusts.

Where the maxim of ex turpi causa is successfully applied it acts as a complete bar on recovery. It is often referred to as the illegality defencealthough it extends beyond illegal conduct to immoral conduct: Furthermore, that policy is not based upon a single justification but on a group of reasons, which vary in different situations”. Some principles which have emerged but are not always consistently applied include: The public conscience test.


Ex Turpi Causa Non Oritur Actio Definition

Where the Claimant has to plead the illegality to found their claim, the courts will not allow them to succeed. Closely related to the reliance test is the inextricably linked test. The no benefit principle. The no benefit principle stems from a policy consideration that a criminal should not be able to benefit from their crime.

Murphy v Culhane [] QB 94 Case summary. Meah v McCreamer No.

The proportionality test was applied in the following ex turpi cases: It also considers whether allowing recover would deter or encourage criminal behaviour. The courts may also be influenced by statutory policy objectives. Suicide and injuries arising from escape.


The defence is unlikely to be successfully raised in relation to suicide in police custody despite the finding that suicide although not illegal is caught by the defence as it amounts to immoral conduct. In Kirkham where the Claimant was of unsound mind the defence failed under the public conscience test. This point was not appealed to the Lords. Injuries arising from escape cauusa custody. Where the Claimant commits a crime which they allege they would not have committed but for the Defendant’s negligence, the question arises as to whether they can recover damages for their loss of liberty.


However, in the following two cases, the Court of Appeal held that public policy precluded recovery: Claim for an indemnity to relieve the acrio of a crime: These principles were recently considered by the House of Lords: A participant to a joint criminal enterprise can not recover from another participant: This reasoning of ex turpi was upheld in the following case and is based on the inability of the court to assess the scope of such a duty: However, its most recent Consultation Paper has decided against legislative reform preferring development by the courts.

In doing so they gave guidance to the court: In reaching its decision the court will need to balance the strength of these policies against the objective of achieving a just result, taking into account the relative merits of the parties and the proportionality of denying the claim. Whenever the illegality defence is successful, the court should make clear the justification for its application”.

Since the publication of the Consultation Paper there have been two e from the House of Lords. Law Commission Consultation Paper No