Case Summaries: 16 November 1998

THE FOLLOWING notes of judgments were prepared by the reporters of the All England Law Reports.

Criminal evidence

R v Taylor and anor; CA (Crim Div) (Judge LJ, Sedley, Maurice Kay JJ) 27 Oct 1998.

It should be the standard national practice, where reliance was placed on a witness turning Queen's evidence, for the prosecution to offer to disclose the witness's convictions to the jury at the start of the trial, unless the defence invited them to do otherwise. A submission that the admission of those convictions prejudiced the witness, and the defendant by association, would not be accepted, as a professional criminal could otherwise set a premium on having a large number of convictions, and, in the belief that evidence of his convictions would not be admitted, feel free to impugn prosecution witnesses.

Freddy Apfel (Registrar of Ciminal Appeals) for the appellant; Brian E. Jones (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the co-accused; Tim Clayton (CPS) for the Crown.

Costs

Mainwaring and anor v Goldtech Investments Ltd; CA (Peter Gibson, Pill, Mummery LJJ) 30 Oct 1998.

Where two orders for costs providing for costs to be taxed if not agreed had been made against M and L jointly and severally, and the taxation proceedings and certificates as against L had been set aside because the bills had not been served on him, the costs were also disallowed against M. The effect of disallowing the costs against L under RSC Ord 62 r 28(4), combined with the operation of the common law rule with respect to a joint debt, meant that once L had been released by order of the court, M was also released from liability. Upon a nil taxation in accordance with the rules, the joint debt created by the order ceased to exist.

M in person, and as a Mackenzie friend for L; Peter Sheridan QC (SJ Berwin & Co) for the defendants' solicitors; Jeremy Morgan (Treasury Solicitor) as amicus curiae.

Statutory nuisance

Pearshouse v Birmingham CC; QBD (Div Ct) (Bingham LCJ, Collins J) 4 Nov 1998.

Since s 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 was intended to provide a simple procedure for the private citizen to obtain redress if a statutory nuisance under s 79(1)(a) of the Act existed at the premises he occupied, unnecessary technicalities were not to be imposed. For the purposes of a notice served under s 82(6), any errors or any indication that it might not contain an exhaustive list of the defects complained of would not invalidate that notice because it was not for the tenant to prejudge the matter, but merely to draw to his landlord's attention what was troubling him.

Stephen Knafler (Graham Pearce & Co, Solihull) for the appellant; Philip Coppel (Legal Services, Birmingham City Council) for the respondent.

Contingency fees

Hughes v Kingston upon Hull CC; QBD (Div Ct) (Rose LJ, Mitchell J) 9 Nov 1998.

Once a magistrate had found that a contingency fee arrangement existed between a complainant and his solicitor, he was right to declare that the complainant was unable to seek an order for costs pursuant to s 82(12) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It was clear from the case of Swain v Law Society [1982] 2 All ER 827, which had not been cited to the court in Thai Trading Co v Taylor [1998] 3 All ER 65, that r 8(1) of the Solicitors Rules 1990 had the force of law, and that it precluded solicitors from entering into any arrangement to receive a fee payable only in the event of success.

Valerie Easty (Sydney Mitchell, Birmingham) for the appellant; James Findlay (Town Clerk, Kingston upon Hull CC) for the respondent.

Compulsory winding up

Re Inside Sport Ltd; Ch Div (Lightman J) 2 Nov 1998.

Where there was an ongoing voluntary liquidation and the main dispute between the parties was the identity of the person appointed as voluntary liquidator, the court should, when deciding whether to grant a petitioning creditor's application for a compulsory winding up order, bear in mind the alternative remedy of an application under s 171 of the Insolvency Act 1986 for the appointment of a fresh voluntary liquidator.

Hilary Stonefrost (Dibb Lupton Alsop) for the petitioner; Edward Francis (Wansbroughs Willey Hargrave) for the opposing creditors.

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