Bad Beneficiaries- Should they be allowed to inherit from their victims?

违法受益人是否应被剥夺受害人遗产的继承资格?

A convicted murderer cannot inherit their victim’s estate. However, the lines become blurred if the person was not the direct murderer but perhaps:
被判有罪的杀人犯显然不能继承被害人的财产。然而,如果此人不是直接的杀人犯,但可能是:
(a) Assisted in covering up the murder? 谋杀罪的帮助犯;
(b) Accidentally killed the deceased? Or 过失致被害人死亡;或
(c) Was not guilty due to ill mental health? 由于精神失常被判无罪。

Essentially, whether the bad beneficiary will be prohibited from inheriting the deceased victim’s wealth depends on how “bad” their behaviour was. In other words, what was their level of culpability?
从本质上讲,违法受益人是否应被剥夺受害人遗产的继承资格取决于他们的行为有多“坏”。从法律上来讲,违法受益人的罪责程度有多高?

Recent reporting of the murder of Annabelle Chen by her husband has attracted widespread attention to the mechanics of the “forfeiture rule”. Mr Chen’s daughter, Tiffany Wan, was found to have helped her father cover up the crime. She was convicted and imprisoned. She will become eligible for parole next month, and the spotlight has now fallen upon the estate of the Annabella Chen. Although Tiffany’s father has been denied any possibility of inheritance, Tiffany herself could potentially inherit her deceased mother’s estate.
近日珀斯华人Annabelle Chen谋杀案引起了不少关注,焦点在于“没收规则”是否适用该案。Annabelle Chen的女儿Tiffany Wan为掩盖父亲的杀人罪行做了伪证,目前她还在监狱,但下月将有资格获得假释。她是否能够继承母亲Annabelle Chen的巨额遗产?尽管Tiffany Wan的父亲已经被剥夺了遗产继承权,Tiffany Wan本人依然有可能继承母亲的遗产。

At the moment, there is no direct precedent to guide whether involvement in covering up the murder would be sufficient to block the convicted person from inheriting all or part of the estate. The situation is unclear and the result cannot be predicted.
迄今为止,澳洲还没有关于包庇罪罪犯是否有资格继承受害人全部或部分遗产的判例,因此Annabelle Chen的遗产会怎么判,还是一个未知数。

What is the Forfeiture Rule?
什么是没收规则?

There are two versions of the Forfeiture Rule –the common law version and the legislated additions. The common law version applies to cases of murder and manslaughter but does not include the case of a person found not guilty of murder on the ground of mental illness.
没收规则有两种适用情况:普通法和补充条例。普通法适用于谋杀和过失杀人案件,但不包括因精神疾病被认定无罪的情况,补充条例有特定的适用条件。

The Forfeiture Act was introduced to provide the Court with the discretion, to modify or apply the operation of the forfeiture rule, as where “justice” requires.
《没收法案》(The Forfeiture Act )赋予法官在运用没收规则时酌情使用自由裁量权,以实现法律的“公平正义”。

Section 3 of the Forfeiture Act 1995 which defines the “forfeiture rule” as “the unwritten rule of public policy that in certain circumstances precludes a person who has unlawfully killed another person from acquiring a benefit in consequence of the killing.”
根据《1995年澳大利亚没收法案》第3节,“没收规则”的定义是“公众约定俗成的规则,即在某些情况下,禁止非法致他人死亡者因谋杀获益。”

The words “unlawful killing” are further defined as:
进一步讲,“非法致他人死亡”的定义是:

(a) any homicide committed in the State that is an offence, and
在澳大利亚境内被认定为故意致他人死亡的行为,以及

(b) any homicide that would be an offence if committed within the State,
在澳大利亚境内被认定为过失致人死亡的行为;以及

and includes aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring such a homicide and unlawfully aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring a suicide.
协助、教唆、怂恿或促使受害人死亡的行为也包含在内。

The common law forfeiture rule will continue to be strictly applied in the case of outright murder, and no opportunity to modify or temper the effect of the rule is offered by the Act.
按照法律规定,普通法的《没收法案》只适用于直接谋杀案,法官不得使用自由裁量权改变条例的效力。

The Settree Case
新南威尔士州罗宾森诉谢梯案

A recent example played out in the case of Re Settree Estates; Robinson v Settree [2018] NSWSC 1413. In this case, the Scott Settree used a prohibited shotgun to shoot and kill his parents following an argument in the family home. The attack was unprovoked, and the Court itself made note that Mr and Mrs Settree were “blameless, loving parents”.
近几年和Annabelle Chen谋杀案比较相似的案件是去年的新南威尔士州Robinson诉Settree案(Robinson v Settree[2018]NSWSC 1413)。被告Scott Settree在家中与父母发生争执,用一把违禁猎枪射杀了他的双亲。法院认定,这是一场意外,Scott属于过失杀人,Scott的父母也是“无可指摘的充满爱心的父母”。

Scott admitted to killing his parents, and admitted to intending to kill them, however he was not guilty by reason of mental illness and remains in protective detention as a result of orders made at the conclusion of his criminal trial.
在法庭上,Scott承认了杀害父母的罪行,也承认自己有杀人动机,然而他被检查出有精神疾病,法院判他无罪的同时下达了保护性拘禁令。
The deceased parents left Wills that left their wealth to their two children equally. In total the estate was worth about $2 million dollars, and Scott was due to inherit half.
Scott的父母生前立下遗嘱,死后要把财产平分给两个孩子。如果执行遗嘱,Scott将会分得一半遗产,也就是100万澳元。

The inheritance became possible because the common law forfeiture rule does not apply in the case of a person found not guilty of murder by reason of mental illness. Scott’s sister, Wendy, decided to skip over the application of the common law rule and turn to the additional legislative rules.
Scott能继承遗产,是因为普通法的没收规则只适用于直接杀人的情况,Scott患有精神疾病被判无罪,是特殊情况。Scott的姐妹Wendy决定跳过普通法,用补充条例让Scott丧失继承父母遗产的资格。

Under s11 Forfeiture Act, Wendy applied to the Court for orders that the forfeiture rule still apply to Scott even though he was found not guilty of murder by reason of mental illness. Section 11 specifically provides for the possibility of extended the application of the Forfeiture Rule to persons found not guilty of murder by reason of mental illness where the evidence addresses:
Wendy向法院申请该案适用《没收法案》第11节,这一补充的条款特别规定,违法行为人即使因患有精神疾病被判无罪,依然不得继承被害人遗产,需要考虑的因素如下:
(a) whether “justice” requires the rule to be applied as if the offender had been found guilty of murder;
法律所主张的“公平正义”是否适用于该情节;
(b) Scott’s conduct;
Scott的行为;
(c) the conduct of Scott’s deceased parents;
Scott已故父母的行为;
(d) the effect of the rule upon other people, ie Scott’s, children or other surviving beneficiates; and
没收规则对受益人的影响,Scott,Wendy和其他在世的受益人;以及
(e) such other matters that the Court considers important.
法院认为重要的其他事项。

The Court ultimately decide that the forfeiture rule would be applied, however with a condition that an amount of $50,000 be set aside from each of the parent’s estates to be held on restricted trusts for Scott’s welfare. In coming to this conclusion, the Court considered the level of premeditation, Scott’s mental illness and the view that Scott’s deceased parents would not have wanted Scott left without any financial assistance.
最终,法庭综合考虑了Scott的预谋程度、Scott的精神状态、以及Scott父母不希望儿子一无所有的愿望,判决Scott的情况符合没收规则,丧失遗产继承资格。同时,法院还规定从每位受益人继承的遗产里平均拨出一部分钱成立信托,用来保障斯科特的日常生活,信托资金总额为5万澳元。

Conclusion
小结

Although the common law rule seemed to have provide clear cut results, the tampering effect of the legislative discretion cannot be ignored. Keeping up with strong public sentiment regarding notions of morality and justice is no simple task.
虽然普通法规则似乎已经给出了明确的答案,但我们也不能忽视法官依法行使裁量权的效应。一言以蔽之,让刑事判决符合民意,不与公众朴素的道德正义观念产生冲突,并非易事。

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