Law report: Case Summaries

29 November 1999
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The Independent Culture
THE FOLLOWING notes of judgments were prepared by the reporters of the All England Law Reports.


R v Blackburn Justices, ex p Holmes; QBD, Div Ct (Kennedy LJ, Jowitt J) 12 Oct 1999.

ALTHOUGH NEITHER the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 nor the Magistrates' Courts Rules 1981 contained a specific power to amend an information, it was possible for a magistrate to amend a date in an information to bring it within the six-month time limit in s 127 of the 1980 Act, provided that did not affect the speed of the trial, the evidence against the accused was unchanged, and there was no question of the amendment's causing unfair prejudice to the accused.

Tobias Davey (Forbes & Partners, Clitheroe) for the applicant; Graham Knowles (CPS) for the prosecution.

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.

Restraint of trade

Turner and ors v Commonwealth and British Minerals Ltd; CA (Butler-Sloss, Waller, Laws LJJ) 13 Oct 1999.

ALTHOUGH THE fact that employees had been paid extra for entering into an agreement to be bound by a restrictive covenant was a legitimate factor for the court to take into account when considering the interests of the contracting parties, it did not relieve the company of the necessity to justify the restraint.

Mark Cran QC, James Palmer (Eversheds) for the claimants; Michael Tugendhat QC, Michael Duggan (Nabarro Nathanson) for the defendant.


British Waterways Board v Severn Trent Water Ltd; Ch D (Arden J) 13 Oct 1999.

SECTION 159 of the Water Industry Act 1991 conferred an implied power to discharge surface water from pipes vested in sewarage authority, but that power had to be exercised in good faith and with all reasonable regard for the interests of other persons.

Charles Flint QC, Michael Fordham (Eversheds) for the claimant; Michael Beloff QC, Richard Macrory (Herbert Smith) for the defendant.


Palmer and anor v Bowman and anor; CA (Auld, Aldous LJJ, Rattee J) 14 Oct 1999.

THERE COULD be no acquisition by prescription of an easement to permit natural drainage of percolating and undefined surface water from higher land to lower land, since it was the product of a law of nature, and an incident of ownership of the higher land.

Peter Birts QC (Kenneth Bush & Co) for the claimants; Jonathan Rayner James QC (Pearson & Partners) for the defendants.


Re Westlowe Storage and Distribution Ltd; Ch D (Hart J) 14 Oct 1999.

SINCE s 212 of the Insolvency Act 1986 applied if, in the course of the winding up of a company, an officer or other person concerned in the formation or management of the company "had misapplied or retained, or become accountable for, any money or other property of the company, or been guilty of any misfeasance or breach of any fiduciary or other duty in relation to the company", the court was permitted to examine the conduct of the person concerned. The section was not confined to cases of misfeasance involving moral turpitude, but was apt to cover the whole spectrum of directors' duties.

Matthew Collings QC (Burton Copeland) for the claimant; the respondent in person.


R v Rawlinson; CA, Crim Div (Henry LJ, Owen, Douglas Brown JJ) 14 Oct 1999.

A JUDGE, when informing a defendant convicted of a sexual offence of the requisite notification requirement pursuant to s 1(4) of the Sexual Offenders Act 1997, was not under a duty to do. He was, therefore, acting in an advisory capacity, and was not making an order of the court.

D. Monk (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant.