Law: Case Summaries

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

Sentencing

R v Brown and ors; CA, Crim Div (Auld LJ, Forbes, David Steel JJ) 3 Feb 1999.

WHILST SUBSTANTIAL sentences were justified for offences of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to corrupt a police officer because of the impact of such offences on the criminal justice system, a starting point of 13 years' imprisonment was far too high, even where a defendant who was a former police officer had used know-how and contacts gained during his time in the police force in committing a pattern of serious offences.

John Nutting QC, Anne Johnston (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for Brown; Graham Henson (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for King; Sasha Wass (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for Mahoney.

Negligence

Nationwide Building Society v Thimbleby & Co; Ch D (Blackburne J) 26 Feb 1999.

"NEGLIGENCE" IN s 4 of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Acr 1945, whether applied to a plaintiff or a defendant, meant negligence actionable as a tort. Accordingly, contributory negligence was not available as a defence in an action for damages for deceit.

Michael Driscoll QC, Timothy Higginson, Ian Gatt (Dibb Lupton Alsop) for the plaintiff; Nicholas Davidson QC, Francis Bacon (Browne Jacobson) for the defendant.

Insolvency

Re a debtor (No SD 27 of 1998); Ch D (Neuberger J) 4 March 1999.

THE COURT could set aside a statutory demand served on a debtor in respect of a stopped cheque under r 6.5(a) of the Insolvency Rules 1986 where the debtor raised a claim against the creditor which could not be a defence to a claim on the cheque, if it were satisfied that there was a good reason for so doing.

Matthew Wales (Rickerby Watterson, Cheltenham) for the debtor; Louise Varty (Grange Wintringham, Grimsby) for the respondent.

Crown Court

R v Snaresbrook Crown Court, ex p Input Management Ltd; QBD, Div Ct (Kennedy LJ, Blofeld J) 4 March 1999.

WHERE NO reasons had been given by a judge sitting with justices in the Crown Court when dismissing an appeal from the magistrates' court, a note of the proceedings subsequently provided by the judge, which was unsupported by an affidavit and was not signed by the other members of the court, was of no real weight. Reasons for a decision should be given contemporaneously so that the appellant might be assured that there was no ex post facto rationalisation.

Kevin de Haan (Downs, Dorking) for the applicant; David Travers (Legal Department, Redbridge London Borough Council) for the interested party.

Discovery

Manatee Towing Co and anor v Oceanbulk Maritime SA and anor; Oceanbulk Maritime SA and anor v Manatee Towing Co and ors; QBD, Commercial Ct (Rix J) 4 March 1999.

THE COURT had jurisdication to grant the third defendant by counterclaim discovery of documents from the plaintiffs. The modern rules made a clear distinction between cases where the interrogatories or discovery requested had to relate to a matter in question between the applicant and respondent parties, and those where discovery could be made by any party against any other party without the additional limitation that the documents should relate to a matter arising directly between the parties.

Nigel Eaton (Jackson Parton) for the plaintiffs; Tim Kenefick (Sinclair Roche & Temperley) for the third defendant to the counterclaim.

Costs

Globe Equities Ltd v Kotrie and ors; CA (Butler-Sloss, Morritt, Sedley LJJ) 5 March 1999.

IN DECIDING whether the court should exercise the power conferred by s 51(1) and (3) of the Supreme Court Act 1981 to make a non-party firm of solicitors pay the costs of the proceedings, the test was whether it would be just to do so. There was not usually any justification for making someone else pay the costs in the ordinary run of cases where the party was pursuing or defending the claim for his own benefit through solicitors acting as such, but there would be cases where either or both of those features were absent, and in such cases it would be a matter for the judge's discretion.

Gabriel Moss QC, Roxanne Ismail (Weightmans) for the firm; James Bonney QC, Jonathan Gavaghan (Willan Bootland White) for the plaintiff.

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