Case Summaries: 6 December 1999

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

Road traffic

Murtagh and anor (t/a Ruberry Rednal Cars) v Bromsgrove District Council; QBD, Div Ct (Kennedy LJ, Jowitt J) 15 Oct 1999.

SECTION 80(2) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976 Act, as applied to s 46(1)(d) and (e) of the Act, had the effect that an operator of a private hire vehicle required a licence from the area in which he intended to operate, and might only operate in that area vehicles and drivers licensed by the same district. That was, however, subject to the exemption in s 75(2), which enabled drivers to go anywhere provided they were licensed by the same council as the operator.

Veronica Hammerton (Rowe and Cohen, Manchester) for the appellants; John McGuinness (R.F. Lewis) for the council.

Solicitor

Pearson v Sanders Witherspoon; CA (Peter Gibson, Ward, Chadwick LJJ) 22 Oct 1999.

THE DUTY of a solicitor in accepting a retainer to act for a client in litigation was the duty to act with all due expedition and not to cause delays. Although policy demanded that delay in litigation be eradicated, that did not extend as far as imposing upon solicitors the risk of non- recovery of a judgment debt. The imposition of a duty on the solicitor, arising simply from the retainer, to protect the client against the risk of a judgment not being enforced through the impecuniosity of the defendant, was not required by reasonableness, fairness and justice as between solicitor and client.

Patrick Phillips QC, J. David Cook (Carter Lemon) for the claimant; Bernard Livesey QC, Ian Ridd (Barlow Lyde and Gilbert) for the defendant.

Costs

Mooney v Cardiff Justices; QBD, Div Ct (Tuckey LJ, Moses J) 22 Oct 1999.

IN MAKING a decision on an application for a defendant's costs order from central funds under s 16 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 where proceedings against the accused had been discontinued, it was open to the justices to come to a decision on the basis of a statement of facts made by the prosecutor, provided that statement contained sufficient facts for them to be justified in reaching the conclusion that the defendant had brought the proceedings on himself.

Martin Hall-Smith (Robert Render & Partners, Cardiff) for the appellant.

Electricity

South Wales Electricity plc v Director General of Electricity Supply; Ch D (Arden J) 22 Oct 1999.

THE ELECTRICITY Act 1988 did not confer upon a licensed public electricity supplier the power to run a voluntary scheme whereby its subsidiary, a water supplier, could recover water debts and charges by means of the electricity supplier's electricity pre-payment meter. The provisions of the Act, properly construed, only granted to the electricity supplier the power to recover its own charges by means of a pre-payment meter, not those of other persons.

Hilary Heilborn QC, James Flynn (the Solicitor, South Wales Electricity plc) for Swalec; Guy Newey (Treasury Solicitor) for the Director General of Electricity Supply.

VAT

North East Garages Ltd v Customs and Excise Commrs; QBD, Crown Office List (Lightman J) 25 Oct 1999.

IT WAS clear as a matter of principle and authority that, where a party had given false evidence on an issue relevant to the decision of the court, the court could take that into account when deciding the question of costs. The Value Added Tax and Duties Tribunal was, accordingly, entitled to refuse to award a successful taxpayer the costs of his appeal on the grounds of his unmeritorious conduct.

Andrew Young of Deloitte & Touche (Walker Martineau) for the taxpayer; Richard L. Barlow (Solicitor of Customs and Excise) for the commissioners.

Telecoms

Mercury Personal Communications v Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry; CA (Simon Brown, Otton, Mummery LJJ) 14 Oct 1999.

ALTHOUGH THE Secretary of State did not have an express power under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1998 to require that existing mobile telephone operators accept an amendment to their existing licences as a pre-condition to bidding for new licences, the power to make statutory instruments under s 3 of the Act was sufficiently wide to allow him to do so.

Richard Fowler QC, Jonathan Crow (Treasury Solicitor) for the Secretary of State; David Pannick QC, Dinah Rose (Simmons & Simmons) for the respondents; Pushpinder Saini (Baker & McKenzie) for the interveners.

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