Law Report: Case Summaries

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The following notes of judgments were prepared by the reporters of the All England Law Reports.

Company

Re Firedart Ltd; Official Receiver v Fairall; ChD(Arden J); 24 March 1994.

Accounting records were important both while a company was a going concern and in the event of liquidation. When directors did not maintain accounting records in accordance with the very specific requirements of s 221 of the Companies Act 1985, they could not know their company's financial position with accuracy. There was therefore a risk that the situation was much worse than they knew, and that creditors would suffer in consequence. Directors who permitted this could expect to be found unfit to be concerned in the management of a company within the meaning of s 6 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

Richard Ritchie (Treasury Solicitor) for the Official Receiver; the respondent director did not appear.

Crime

R v Ahmed and ors; CA(Crim Div)(Evans LJ, Curtis, Morison JJ); 29 March 1994.

A large part of the prosecution evidence against five defendants charged with conspiracy to supply drugs comprised interceptions of telephone calls made from a police station by the ring-leader. Since the calls had been tapped from within the police station and remained within the private system until routed by the internal switchboard into the public telephone system the evidence had been correctly admitted. It was clear that tapping lines forming part of a private section of the system did not involve a breach of s 1(1) of the Communications Act 1985, whose object had been to protect the integrity of the public system.

Wilfred Steer QC and Richard Sheldon (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appelants; FJ Muller QC and Andrew Robertson (CPS) for the Crown.

R v Ellington and anor; CA(Crim Div)(Stuart-Smith LJ, Ian Kennedy, Gage JJ); 28 March 1994.

Although the primary purpose of cross-examination of an accused as to his previous convictions and bad character was to show that he was unworthy of belief rather than that he had a disposition to commit the type of offence with which he was charged, the mere fact that because of their number or type his previous convictions had the incidental effect of suggesting propensity would not make their admission in evidence improper, but it was undesirable that cross-examination on them should be prolonged or extensive, and unless they were admissible as similar fact evidence, prosecuting counsel should not seek to probe or emphasise similarities between the previous offences and the instant offence. Similarities to defences rejected by juries on previous occasions might be a legitimate matter for questions since they were relevant to credibility; underlying facts showing particularly bad character over and above the bare facts of the case were not necessarily to be excluded but care was needed. Where the accused had been cross-examined as to character and previous offences, the judge must tell the jury that the purpose of the questioning went only to credit and not to propensity.

Lawrence Kershan QC (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Nigel Sweeney (CPS) for the Crown.

Negligence

Gaskill v Rentokil Ltd; QBD (Otton J); 29 March 1994.

The plaintiff failed to establish that exposure to lindane in wood preservative used in the treatment of wood in his home had caused him to suffer from aplastic anaemia.

Andrew Collins QC and James Ramsden (Leigh Day & Co) for the plaintiff; Raymond Machell QC and Mark Turner (Legal Department, Rentokil) for Rentokil.

Police

R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Ex p Barr and ors; CA (Neill, Hoffmann, Waite LJJ); 24 February 1994.

The Home Secretary is not bound to accept the findings of fact of an appeal tribunal inquiring into a disciplinary offence by a police officer.

Edmund Lawson QC and Michael Egan (Russell Jones & Walker) for the applicants; David Pannick QC and Javan Herberg (Treasury Solicitor) for the Home Secretary.

Trade union

Blackpool and the Fylde College v National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education; CA(Sir Thomas Bingham MR, Neill, Steyn LJJ); 25 Feb 1994.

A notice of industrial action given by a union to an employer in accordance with the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, as amended, must adequately describe the employees to be balloted or inducted to take industrial action. The union could identify the employees by category, by naming individuals or by a combination of both, depending on the facts of the case.

Jeremy McMullen (Michael Scott & Co) for the union; Patrick Elias QC and Danial Stillitz (Norton Rose) for the college.

Value added tax

BJ Rice & Associates v Customs & Excise Commissioners QBD (Macpherson J); 15 March 1994.

VAT was payable on 'continuous supplies' of services within the meaning of the VAT (General) Regulations 1985 (SI no 886), reg 23, where the supplies were made before a taxpayer was registered for VAT but not paid for until after registration. The regulation provided that the time of supply of continuous services (that is supplies made by a taxable person paid for periodically or from time to time) should be the earlier of the date of payment or the date when a tax invoice was issued. A tax invoice had never been issued, so the time of supply was when the payment was received after registration.

The taxpayer in person; Paul Lasok (Customs & Excise solicitor) for the Crown.

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