CASE SUMMARIES : 12 June 1995

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

Contract

Vitol SA v Novell Ltd; CA (Nourse, Kennedy, Hirst LJJ) 26 May 1995.

Where a contract was repudiated, the failure by the innocent party to perform his own contractual obligations could not constitute acceptance of the repudiation since it was equivocal, being equally consistent with a misunderstanding by the innocent party of his rights under the contract, indecision or even inadvertence.

Andrew Popplewell (Holman Fenwick & Willan) for the appellants; Jeremy Cooke QC, Andrew Wales (Clyde & Co) for the respondents.

Drunk driving

R v Pydar Justices, ex p Foster; QB Div Ct (Simon Brown LJ, Curtis J) 12 May 1995.

A submission of no case to answer could not be made on the basis that there was no evidence before the justices to establish the proportion of alcohol in the defendant's breath, as determined by a properly functioning intoximeter, where a copy of the intoximeter printout had been produced to the court but had not been passed to the justices, since once an exhibit had been produced the court had jurisdiction over it.

Francis Burkett (Coodes, Newquay) for the applicant; Nigel Seed (CPS) for the respondent.

Distress

Salford Van Hire (Contracts) Ltd v Breholt Developments Ltd; CA (Nourse, Hirst LJJ, Sir Ralph Gibson) 6 April 1995.

In considering, for the purposes of s 4(1) of the Law of Distress (Amendment) Act 1908, whether a tenant company was the reported owner of a van which it had hired, the relevant circumstances to be taken into account included the prevalence of hiring and other forms of arrangements falling short of outright ownership, either as established by the evidence or as a factor of which it was possible to take judicial notice.

James Bonney (Dunderdale Wignall, Manchester) for the appellants; Anthony Elleray QC (Masons, Bolton) for the respondents.

Divorce

Manchanda v Manchanda; CA (Leggatt LJ, Thorpe J) 17 May 1995.

Where a husband applied for a decree nisi of divorce to be made absolute before the necessary period of time for doing so had elapsed and without giving notice of the application to his wife, the decree absolute granted by the court was null and void and the wife was entitled to have it set aside.

Timothy Scott QC (Collyer-Bristow) for the appellant; Paul McCormick (Singh Virdi & Co, Hounslow) for the respondent.

Insurance

Grace v Leslie & Godwin Financial Services Ltd; QBD (Clarke J) 1 May 1995.

An insurance broker was under a duty to retain enough information, in the form of a policy or slip, to ensure that a claim could be made; and he should retain the information for as long as he thought it might be possible to make such a claim.

Adam Fenton (Clyde & Co) for the plaintiff; Jeffrey Gruder (Cameron Markby Hewitt) for the defendants.

Land

Overseas Investment Services Ltd v Simcobuild Construction Ltd & anr; CA (Staughton, Beldam, Peter Gibson LJJ) 27 March 1995.

Rights created by an agreement made pursuant to s 38(3) of the Highways Act 1980, relating to a future highway over registered land, were not "public rights" within the meaning of s 70(1)(a) of the Land Registration Act 1925 and therefore not overriding rights binding on a subsequent purchaser of the land, since they were not rights exercisable by anyone merely by virtue of being a member of the public and under general law.

Nigel Davis QC, Tom Bannister (Morgan Bruce, Swansea) for the appellants; Elizabeth Appleby QC, Robin Campbell (Brian Owen, Swansea) for the respondents.

Rates

Barnet London Borough Council v London Transport Property; QBD (Harrison J) 2 May 1995.

The word "storage" in the Non-Domestic (Unoccupied) Premises Regulations 1989 had to be given its ordinary meaning. Therefore, buses parked overnight or between periods of actual use in a bus depot were not "stored" for the purposes of the Regulations and the respondents were liable to pay non-domestic rates on the premises. Had the buses been kept at the depot prior to being commissioned for use or after having been decommissioned, it was arguable that might constitute storage.

Christopher Lewsley (Solicitor, Barnet LBC) for the appellant; Guy Roots QC, Richard Glover (Solicitor, London Transport) for the respondent.

Sentencing

R v Hastings; CA (Cr Div) (Lord Taylor CJ, Tucker, Forbes JJ) 4 May 1995.

Where a motorist had no option but to plead guilty to a charge of dangerous driving, a plea of guilty did not necessarily attract a discount from the maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment.

Patrick Sullivan, who did not appear below (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant.

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