Yip Chiu-Cheng [1995] 1 AC 111

Key point

  • The parties to a conspiracy must intend that the agreement be carried out


  • D met with a US undercover agent (N) and arranged for N to transport heroin from Hong Kong to Australia, but N missed the flight
  • D was convicted of conspiracy to traffic a dangerous drug
  • D appealed on the ground that N could not be a co-conspirator since he lacked the necessary mens rea for conspiracy by acting with no criminal intent

Held (Privy Council)

  • Appeal dismissed – N had the requisite mens rea for conspiracy and is guilty as a co-conspirator

Lord Griffiths

  • “The crime of conspiracy requires an agreement between two or more persons to commit an unlawful act with the intention of carrying it out. It is the intention to carry out the crime that constitutes the necessary mens rea for the offence. As Lord Bridge pointed out, an undercover agent who has no intention of committing the crime lacks the necessary mens rea to be a conspirator” (at p. 410)
  • However, the facts of the present case are different, although N acted with the motive of breaking a drug ring, N intended to commit the offence of drugs trafficking by carrying the heroin through the customs and on to the aeroplane bound for Australia
  • The fact that authorities would not prosecute N does not mean that he did not commit the crime albeit as part of a wider scheme to combat drug dealing
Inchoate Liability Cases
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