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Why Maria v Hall is important?

Maria v Hall illustrates that it will be considered to amount to homicide if an alien enemy is killed outside of the course of warfare. The deliberate and unjustified shooting of prisoners of war will not be viewed as taking place outside of the Queen’s Peace, meaning the law of murder is capable of applying to such a situation.

Facts

This was a case brought by a Spanish sailor for wages, against the master of a ship. It appears that the sailor had been captured and was at the time a prisoner of war onboard the ship. The defendant argued that this made him an alien enemy.

Issue facing the Court

  1. Whether the Spanish sailor was indeed an alien enemy.
  2. Whether being an alien enemy prevented him from bringing an action.

Outcome

No judgement was ever given in this case.

However, it was stated in this case that if a prisoner of war is murdered, this does not fall outside the King/Queen’s peace and the person responsible should be indicted for murder.

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