CASE SUMMARIES v 7 October 1996

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

Animals

Gaisford & anr v Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries & Food; QBD (David Barker QC) 28 June 1996.

The Ministry did not owe the purchasers of imported animals a duty of care to discover the presence of a disease suffered by the animal while it was in quarantine after being imported. Although s 10 of the Animal Health Act 1981 together with secondary legislation gave the Ministry total control over animal imports, the animals were invariably sent to post-import isolation at premises arranged by the importer which, though approved by, were not owned by the Ministry, which did not therefore have total control over the animals so as to be liable to the purchasers.

Stephen Waine (Horwood & James, Aylesbury) for the plaintiff; Peter Roth (Solicitory, MAFF) for the defendant.

Conflict

Internationale Nederlanden Aviation Lease BV & ors v Civil Aviation Authority & anr; QBD (Comm Ct) (Morison J) 13 June 1996.

The detention of an aircraft by the defendants for non- payment of charges having been found lawful in a previous hearing, the plaintiffs were not entitled to an order discontinuing proceedings in England with liberty to continue in Brussels an action based on similar grounds. The plaintiffs were effectively seeking from the Belgian court a finding that the detention of the aircraft had been unlawful, so if that action succeeded it would lead to conflicting decisions by courts of two states contracting to the Brussels Convention on Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments, contrary to the principal purpose of that convention.

Andrew Lydiard (Clifford Chance) for the plaintiffs; Michael Beloff QC, David Wolfe (Richards Butler) for the second defendant.

Interrogatories

UCB Bank plc v Halifax (SW) Ltd & anr; QBD (Simon Goldblatt QC) 17 June 1996.

Where, in a negligence claim against a valuer, the plaintiff had served interrogatories on the issue of the valuer's methodology and the material relied on in conducting the relevant valuation, the valuer was required to answer them pursuant to RSC Ord 26, r 1. The purpose of the interrogatories was to find, and thereby enable the plaintiff to adduce, evidence of what was in the valuer's mind when he produced the allegedly excessive valuation. That material was not likely to come from another source and would not duplicate other pre-trial preparation. The interrogatories therefore served a clear litigious purpose and were to be answered.

David Phillips (Kingsford Stacey) for the plaintiff; Nigel Pitt (Williams Davies Meltzer) for the defendants.

Reporting restriction

Re Moynihan; FD (Sir Stephen Brown, President) 15 July 1996.

An application to set aside a decree nisi, on the grounds that the divorce procedure was wholly irregular and achieved by fraud and that therefore the decree should be considered null and void, was a judicial proceeding for dissolution of marriage within the meaning of s 1(1)(b) of the Judicial Proceedings (Regulation of Reports) Act 1926. The section was mandatory and did not give the court a discretion. Since it did not contain a criminal sanction it was to be construed restrictively. Although its effect was therefore to restrict the reporting of the case, there was ample scope in the context of s 1 (1)(b)(i)-(iv) for clear and full details of the proceedings to be given, but not for a line-by-line account of what a particular witness said at any particular time.

John Lofthouse (Treasury Solicitor) for the Attorney-General; A.G. Dyer (Donne Mileham & Haddock) for the second intervenor; Lord Meston QC (on behalf of the Queen's Proctor) for the fourth intervenor.

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