Case Summaries: 3 November 1997

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

Mental health

R v Bournewood Community & Mental Health NHS Trust, ex p L; QBD (Crown Office List) (Owen J) 9 Oct 1997.

Where a patient was informally admitted into hospital he was, at all times, free to leave. Accordingly the applicant, who suffered from autism and was unable to speak, had not been unlawfully detained when he was admitted and retained in hospital.

Paul Bowen (Scott-Moncrieff Harbour & Sinclair) for the applicant; John Grace QC (Beachcroft Stanleys) for the respondent.

Illegal importation

Hashwani v Commissioners of Customs and Excise; QBD (Div Ct) (Kennedy LJ, Smith J) 21 Oct 1997.

Artefacts seized by the Commissioners as having been imported without licence or other authority, but subsequently released when a magistrates' court refused to make an order for condemnation, might still be ordered to be condemned on appeal despite their being outside the jurisdiction by the date of the appeal, provided that at the date of the forfeiture proceedings before the magistrates' court the artefacts had been properly seized.

Cherie Booth QC, Rabinder Singh (Zaiwalla & Co) for the appellant; Andrew Bird, Nicki McLaren (C&E Solicitor) for the Commissioners of Customs & Excise.

Legal aid

R v Chester and North Wales Legal Aid Area Office (No 12), ex p Floods of Queensbury Ltd; QBD Crown Office List (Popplewell J) 16 Oct 1997.

The applicant, a limited company, had assigned to a director and shareholder the benefit of a claim which it had commenced in an action before the Official Referee and was accordingly not entitled to legal aid. There was no obligation outside the express contractual terms which imposed an "fiduciary" obligation upon the applicant, and it did not therefore come within s 2(10) of the Legal Aid Act 1988.

David Pannick QC, Michael Fordham (Legal Aid Board) for the respondent; Colin Reese QC (Morrison Skirrow) for the companies; Philip Havers QC, Robert Jay (Winward Fearon) for the applicant.