Hall v Hebert; 29 Apr 1993

References: [1993] 2 SCR 159, (1993) 101 DLR (4th) 129, 1993 CanLII 141
Links: Canlii
Coram: McLachlin J
Ratio:(Canadian Supreme Court) After they had been drinking heavily together, Mr Hebert, who owned a car, allowed Mr Hall to drive it, including initially to give it a rolling start down a road on one side of which there was a steep slope. The car careered down the slope and Mr Hall was seriously injured.
Held: The illegality of his driving did not bar his claim against Mr Hebert but that he was contributorily negligent as to 50%.
McLachlin J discussed the need for a consistent and defensible principle for the operation of the doctrine ex turpi causa: ‘a need in the law of tort for a principle which permits judges to deny recovery to a plaintiff on the ground that to do so would undermine the integrity of the justice system. The power is a limited one. Its use is justified where allowing the plaintiff’s claim would introduce inconsistency into the fabric of the law, either by permitting the plaintiff to profit from an illegal or wrongful act, or to evade a penalty prescribed by criminal law. Its use is not justified where the plaintiff’s claim is merely for compensation for personal injuries sustained as a consequence of the negligence of the defendant.’ He explained the principle, saying that: ‘to allow recovery in these cases would be to allow recovery for what is illegal. It would put the courts in the position of saying that the same conduct is both legal, in the sense of being capable of rectification by the court, and illegal. It would, in short, introduce an inconsistency in the law. It is particularly important in this context that we bear in mind that the law must aspire to be a unified institution, the parts of which – contract, tort, the criminal law – must be in essential harmony. For the courts to punish conduct with the one hand while rewarding it with the other, would be to ‘create an intolerable fissure in the law’s conceptually seamless web’: Weinrib – ‘Illegality as a Tort Defence’ (1976) 26 U.T.L.J. 28 at p. 42. We thus see that the concern, put at its most fundamental, is with the integrity of the legal system.’
This case is cited by:

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(This list may be incomplete)

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