State Rail Authority of New South Wales v Wiegold: 1991

(New South Wales) The plaintiff was seriously injured in an industrial accident caused by the defendant’s negligence. At first he received payments of worker’s compensation but when these ceased he took to supplementing his income by growing and selling marijuana. This was a criminal offence for which he was convicted and served some eight months imprisonment. He also lost his employment. He claimed compensation for loss of earnings while in prison and afterwards on the ground that it was a consequence of the impecuniosity caused by the accident.
Held: (majority) This damage was irrecoverable. Samuels JA said: ‘If the plaintiff has been convicted and sentenced for a crime, it means that the criminal law has taken him to be responsible for his actions and has imposed an appropriate penalty. He or she should therefore bear the consequences of the punishment, both direct and indirect. If the law of negligence were to say, in effect, that the offender was not responsible for his actions and should be compensated by the tortfeasor, it would set the determination of the criminal court at nought. It would generate the sort of clash between civil and criminal law that is apt to bring the law into disrepute.’


Samuels JA


(1991) 25 NSWLR 500



Cited by:

CitedGray v Thames Trains and Others HL 17-Jun-2009
The claimant suffered psychiatric injury in a rail crash caused by the defendant’s negligence. Under this condition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the claimant had later gone on to kill another person, and he had been detained under section 41. . .
CitedLes Laboratoires Servier and Another v Apotex Inc and Others SC 29-Oct-2014
Ex turpi causa explained
The parties had disputed the validity a patent and the production of infringing preparations. The english patent had failed and damages were to be awarded, but a Canadian patent remained the defendant now challenged the calculation of damages for . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 18 May 2022; Ref: scu.347283