Hewison v Meridian Shipping Services Pte

Hewison v Meridian Shipping Services Pte
Court Court of Appeal
Citation(s) [2002] EWCA Civ 1821, [2003] ICR 766, [2003] PIQR P17, (2003) 147 SJLB 24, Times, December 28, 2002, Independent, February 10, 2003
Transcript(s) Judgment on Bailii
Case opinions
Ward LJ (dissenting), Tuckey LJ and Clarke LJ

Hewison v Meridian Shipping Services Pte [2002] EWCA Civ 1821 is an English tort law case, concerning an employer's liability for an employee's illegal acts.


Mr Hewison had epilepsy and needed anti-convulsant drugs. He concealed his illness so that he could do offshore work with his employer, Meridian Shipping, as a crane operator. Meridian Shipping was responsible for a workplace accident, contrary to Employer's Liability (Defective Equipment) Act 1969, whereby Mr Hewison was struck in the head by a gangway. Mr Hewison started to suffer from seizures even with his medication. Meridian Shipping dismissed him and he could get no further work at sea. Mr Hewison submitted that, despite his failure to declare his illness (which, it was conceded, amounted to obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception contrary to s 16 Theft Act 1968), it would be an affront to public conscience were he denied a remedy for Meridian Shipping's negligence and breach of statutory duty. He argued that without the accident his epilepsy would not have been heightened, he would have remained at sea and would not have suffered a considerable loss of future earnings.


Tuckey LJ and Clarke LJ held that Mr Hewison could recover no damages for future loss of earnings. The principle from Clunis v Camden and Islington Health Authority[1] applied here, so that a claimant cannot rely on an unlawful act to enable recovery in tort. Though a claim itself is not barred, loss attributable to an illegal act is.[2] Mr Hewison's offence under the Theft Act 1968 was an essential part of his future employment at sea. It was added that the court would not deny restitution if the illegality was collateral or insignificant, but it rejected the notion that recovery should be allowed merely because denial might affront "public conscience".

Ward LJ dissented.

See also


  1. ↑ [1998] QB 978
  2. ↑ Hunter v Butler [1996] RTR 396
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