CASE SUMMARIES v 20 November 1995

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

Asylum

M v Secretary of State for the Home Department; CA (Butler-Sloss, Millett, Ward LJJ); 24 Oct 1995

A person who put forward a fraudulent and baseless claim for asylum might be guilty of an attempt to pervert the course of justice and, in theory at least, at risk not only of having his claim dismissed but of finding himself the subject of criminal proceedings; but he was not thereby deprived of the protection of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. However, the fact that he had put forward a fraudulent and baseless claim would deprive him of much of his credibility in establishing thereafter that he had a well-founded fear of persecution for one of the reasons set out in the Convention.

Andrew Nicol QC, John Walsh (Hereward & Foster, North Woolwich) for the applicant; Robin Tam (Treasury Solicitor) for the Home Secretary.

Contract

Taylor v Bhail; CA (Sir Stephen Brown P, Russell, Millett LJJ); 1 Nov 1995

The parties to a contract to repair a gale-damaged wall agreed to an inflated estimate in order to recover an extra sum of money from the insurance company on whom a claim was to be made. When a dispute arose over payment, the court held that the plaintiff could not rely on the contract because it was vitiated by illegality, and it was unrealistic to regard the agreement as a building contract with a separate agreement to defraud. It was clearly a single indivisible arrangement tainted by fraud which the law would refuse to enforce. The clear message to commercial men was that parties conspiring to defraud insurance companies could not expect the courts to uphold their contracts.

The defendant in person; Paul Harris (Keith Hall Juviller) for the plaintiff; Timothy Brennan (Treasury Solicitor) as amicus curiae.

Fraudulent trading

R v Smith (Wallace); CA (Crim Div) (Rose LJ, Jowitt, Moore-Bick JJ); 3 Nov 1995

An offence under s 458 of the Companies Act 1986 (fraudulent trading) was a continuing one and if trading was carried on fraudulently, future as well as present creditors might be prejudiced. The word "creditor" in s 458, in its ordinary meaning, denoted one to whom money was owed; whether that debt could at present be sued for was immaterial. English courts had jurisdiction to try an offence contrary to s 15 of the Theft Act 1968 (dishonestly obtaining property by deception) where the deception practised by the defendant was within the jurisdiction in respect of funds transferred from one bank abroad to another based abroad where the transactions were operated by the defendant in and from England.

William Clegg QC, Simon Stafford-Michael (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Timothy Barnes QC, Stuart Lawson-Rogers QC, Susan Reed (SFO) for the Crown.

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