Gray v Barr: ChD 1970

The defendant had used a shotgun to threaten a man and the gun had accidentally gone off and killed him. The issue was whether the defendant could recover in respect of his liability under a policy of insurance. .
Held: The rule of public policy that a criminal should forfeit any interest in a benefit arising from his act only applies where the offender is guilty of violence: ‘However to confine the operation of public policy to cases where there was an actual intent to kill would be to exclude many cases of actual murder: that is to say those cases where the killing was done with intent to do grievous bodily harm, but not to kill. It would further include some cases of manslaughter, for example, manslaughter where the killing was done intentionally but under the stress of provocation, or killing in pursuance of a suicide pact. The logical test, in my judgment, is whether the person seeking the indemnity was guilty of deliberate, intentional and unlawful violence or threats of violence. If he was, and death resulted therefrom, then, however unintended the final death of the victim may have been, the court should not entertain a claim for indemnity.’
Geoffrey Lane J
[1970] 2 QB 626
England and Wales
Cited by:
Appeal fromGray v Barr CA 1971
A husband had accidentally shot and killed his wife’s lover after threatening him with a shotgun.
Held: The court confirmed the decision at first instance. He was not liable to be indemnified by his insurers for the losses claimed against him . .
CitedDunbar (As Administrator of Tony Dunbar Deceased) v Plant CA 23-Jul-1997
The couple had decided on a suicide pact. They made repeated attempts, resulting in his death. Property had been held in joint names. The deceased’s father asked the court to apply the 1982 Act to disentitle Miss Plant.
Held: The appeal was . .
CitedRe H deceased CA 1991
The Plaintiff had stabbed his wife to death when under the illusion, induced by a reaction to an anti-depressant drug, that she had just committed an act of infidelity. At his trial, a plea to guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished . .
CitedD v L and Others ChD 16-Apr-2003
The claimant had been found guilty of the manslaughter by diminished responsibility of the deceased. He now sought disapplication of the 1982 Act.
Held: The application failed: ‘The reforms introduced by the Homicide Act 1957 were designed to . .
CitedChallen v Challen and Another ChD 27-May-2020
Forfeiture rule disapplied after spousal abuse
The claimant sought the disapplication of the forfeiture rule. She had been convicted of the manslaughter of her seriously abusive husband. The court considered whether a conviction for murder set aside and replaced with one of manslaughter was a . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 11 May 2021; Ref: scu.185186