CASE SUMMARIES: 1 DECEMBER 1997

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

Duty

R v Canterbury Crown Court ex p Wagstaff; QBD (Div Ct) (Kennedy LJ, Smith J) 21 Oct 1997.

Where HM Customs & Excise had appealed to the Crown Court under s 147(2) of the Customs & Excise Management Act 1979 against a decision of the magistrates' court to try the applicant summarily for an offence of fraudulent evasion of excise duty, the Crown Court had jurisdiction under s 48 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 to remit the case to the magistrates' court with a direction to hold fresh committal proceedings. Customs & Excise had a right to appeal against any decision of the justices including the exercise of their discretion as to mode of trial, and once that decision had been set aside the justices were no longer functus officio and were under a duty to proceed.

Alex Milne (Titmuss Sainer Dechert) for the applicant. Seddon Cripps (C& E Solicitor) for the Commissioners of Customs & Excise.

Magistrates' court

R v Haringey Justices, ex p Branco; QBD (Div Ct) (Kennedy LJ, Smith J) 24 Oct 1997.

Although the High Court had power to intervene on an application for judicial review, where bias in a magistrates' court was alleged, if there was disputed evidence which could not be resolved on affidavit, it was plainly wrong to come to the High Court to seek a remedy which that court could not provide. In such circumstances an applicant's counsel should advise him to appeal to the Crown Court.

Frank Panford (Wilson & Co) for the applicant; the respondent did not appear and was not represented.

Income tax

Billingham (Inspector of Taxes) v John; ChD (Rimer J) 13 Nov 1997.

A taxpayer covenanted to pay maintenance to his five-year-old daughter rather than to his ex-wife for the maintenance of the child. The payments were in fact made to his ex-wife who had care and control. To be deductible from the taxpayer's total income, qualifying maintenance payments under s 347B of the Taxes Act 1988 had to be made under a written agreement which expressly provided for payments to be made by one party to a marriage for the maintenance of the other party or of a child of the family, and those conditions were not satisfied.

Timothy Brennan (Inland Revenue Solicitor) for the Inspector; the taxpayer in person.

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