Law Report: Case Summaries

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

Action

Malik and anor v Bank of Credit and Commerce International SA; ChD (Evans Lombe J); 16 Feb 1994.

A claim for 'stigma compensation' by two former BCCI employees was struck out as disclosing no reasonable cause of action. The employees had sought compensation for losses attributable to their inability to obtain fresh work, following the collapse of BCCI, because potential employers unfairly assumed they were implicated in BCCI's fraudulent dealings. But such a claim was precluded by binding authority, however sympathetically it might be viewed by the court.

Andrew Stafford (Manches & Co) for the applicants; Christopher Jeans (Lovell White Durrant) for BCCI's liquidators.

Development

Halifax Building Society v Spurzeon; Same v Meridian Housing Association Ltd; ChD (Arden J); 23 Feb 1994.

The provision of one floor of offices, as part of a housing development consisting of 28 flats, in order to help finance and therefore make viable the development as a whole, was within the vires and capacity of an industrial and provident society whose rules provided that its objects were to provide 'housing or any associated amenities' and that the association 'shall have power to do all things necessary or expedient for the fulfilment of its objects'. It was common ground that the office units did not constitute 'associated amenities'.

The question, after Rolled Steel v British Steel Corp (1986) Ch 246 was whether the office development was capable of being the doing of a thing necessary or expedient for the object of conducting a business of providing housing. The answer was yes.

Timothy Lloyd QC and Jonathan Simpkiss (Walker Morris) for Halifax; David Neugerger QC and Timothy Fancourt (Reynolds Porter Chamberlain) for Spurzeon; Laura Rodriquez- Garcia (Booth & Co) for Meridian's receivers.

Land

Hughes v Cook and anor; CA (Beldam, Saville LJJ); 14 Feb 1994.

A person could acquire a possessory title to a piece of land by adverse possession under the Limitation Act 1980, notwithstanding that he in fact believed himself to be the owner of that land.

Stephen Powles (Brachers, Maidstone) for the appellant; Raoul Downey (George J J Thompson, Sandwich) for the respondents.

Sentence

R v Brendan; CA (Crim Div) (Roch LJ, Turner, Latham JJ); 24 Feb 1994.

In deciding to substitute a suspended sentence for one of three months' imprisonment for an assault occasioning actual bodily harm the court took into account, inter alia, the fact that during the nine months which elapsed between the defendant pleading guilty and the sentence being passed, a change in the law resulted in the sentence judge taking into account a spent previous conviction which he could not otherwise have considered.

Stephen Cadwaladr (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant.

R v Szrajber; CA (Crim Div) (Roch LJ, Turner, Latham JJ); 22 Feb 1994.

When imposing the term of imprisonment to be served in default of payment of a fine made under s 31 of the Powers of Courts Act 1973, the judge was not bound to impose the maximum period respective to the amount set out but had a discretion to impose a lesser term of imprisonment where appropriate within the same band. In the circumstances the maximum five-year term which the judge had imposed in default of payment of a compensation order in excess of pounds 250,000 was too long and would be reduced to four years.

Edmund Lawson QC (Kingsley Napley) for the appellant.

Shipping

Niobe Maritime Corpn v Tradax Ocean Transportation SA; CA (Sir Thomas Bingham MR, Beldam, Saville LJJ); 10 Feb 1994.

In a contract for sale of a ship on the Norwegian Saleform (1983 Revision) cl 11 of which provided 'The sellers shall notify the classification society of any matters coming to their knowledge prior to delivery which upon being reported to the classification society would lead to the withdrawal of the vessel's class or to the imposition of a recommendation relating to her class', the words 'coming to their knowledge' referred to the future, not the past, and so necessarily pointed to knowledge acquired after the date of the contract.

Brian McClure (Vincent French & Browne) for the appellants; Michael Collins QC and Charles Haddon-Cave (Ince & Co) for the respondents.

Solicitors

Re a solicitor; QBD (DC) (Lord Taylor of Gosforth LCJ, Auld J); 18 Feb 1994.

It is important for the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal and those affected by its decisions that a properly structured decision document should be given. In the section devoted to its 'Findings' and before going on to deal with the 'order' and the reasons for it, the tribunal should set out in orderly form - preferably tabulated - its reasoned findings of fact on the primary allegations and on the related issue in each case of conduct unbefitting a solicitor.

Nicholas Purnell QC (Sturgess Jeremy) for the solicitor; Peter Birts QC (Percy Hughes & Roberts, Birkenhead) for the Law Society.

Tax

Inland Revenue Commissioners v Reed International plc; ChD (Blackburne J); 4 March 1994.

Alterations made to two employees' approved share option schemes conferred new rights on the existing option holders. Consequently the Board of Inland Revenue was justified in refusing to approve the alterations. The alterations had been made to preserve the position of the Reed group employees who held options on a merger between the Reed group and another group.

Under the original scheme before the alteration, existing options had to be exercised within six months of the merger, reducing the period during which the options might have been exercised.

Alan Moses QC and Launcelot Henderson (Inland Revenue Solicitor) for the Crown; Andrew Park QC (Freshfields) for Reed.

Value added tax

Customs & Excise Commissioners v Nomura Properties Management Services; QBD (Sedley J); 4 March 1994.

A taxpayer was liable for a 'serious misdeclaration penalty' under the Finance Act 1985, s 14(1) where a VAT return had been filled in with the figures inadvertently in the wrong boxes and notwithstanding that a corrected return had been submitted before the penalty was issued.

Michael Kent (Customs & Excise Solicitor) for the commissioners; David Goy QC (Field Fisher Waterhouse) for the taxpayer.

Customs and Excise Commissioners v Le Rifiji Ltd; CA (Sir Thomas Bingham MR, Steyn, Rose LJJ); 10 March 1994.

The Court of Appeal had power, when granting leave to appeal to the Commissioners, to impose conditions as to costs if persuaded that it was in all the circumstances appropriate to do so. In considering whether it was appropraite, the court would not draw too close an analogy with conditions imposed on appeals to the House of Lords.

Edward Cohen (Tarlow Lyons) for the applicant, Nigel Pleming QC (Customs and Excise Solicitor) for the respondent.

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