Law: Case Summaries

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

Child crime

L v DPP; T v DPP; W, GH and CH v DPP; QB Div Ct (Otton LJ and Newman J) 2 May 1996.

It was unnecessary for the prosecution to call independent evidence regarding a child's perception of the seriousness of what he had done in order to rebut the presumption of doli incapax. Police officers engaged in dealing with child suspects should be trained to ask direct questions designed to probe that issue without suggesting the answer the child might perceive the person in authority wished to hear, and in language suited to the age and literacy of the suspect. If this were adopted as the usual practice the answers might give the court a useful insight into the child's state of mind at the time of the offence, so that independent evidence would only need to be called in exceptional cases.

Thomas Bailey (Farrell, Matthews & Weir) for L; Nicholas Paul (Warren & Allen, Nottingham) for T; Malcolm Trousdale (Smith & Graham, Hartlepool) for W; Jane Waugh (Smith & Graham) for GH; Alec Burns (Smith & Graham) for CH; Stephen Ashurst (CPS) for the DPP.

R v Home Secretary, ex p Venables, ex p Thompson; QB Div Ct (Pill LJ, Newman J) 2 May 1996.

The Home Secretary had no power to decide that a child convicted of murder had to serve a minimum period to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence. Although a broad discretion was exercised by Secretaries of State when deciding when to release a child subject to detention at Her Majesty's pleasure under s 53(2) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, the sentence under that section was not of the same nature as a mandatory life sentence. The nature of detention during Her Majesty's pleasure did not permit a tariff approach. Where a child was so detained, the Home Secretary had to keep the need for detention under regular review.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, Ben Emmerson (John Howell & Co, Sheffield) for Venables; Brian Higgs QC, Julian Nutter (Paul Rooney & Co, Liverpool) for Thompson; David Pannick QC, Mark Shaw (Treasury Solicitor) for the Home Secretary; Kuldip Singh QC (Swepstone Walsh) for Associated Newspapers, Mirror Group Newspapers, the Independent, the Times, News Group Newspapers, Telegraph Newspapers and Express Newspapers, as interested parties.

Landlord and tenant

Kay-Green v Twinsectra Ltd; CA (Staughton, Aldous LJJ, Sir John May) 15 May 1996.

The purpose of Pt I of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 was to enable tenants of flats to buy their landlord's interest in the building if the landlord proposed to sell it to someone else, and to buy it from the purchaser if the landlord had already sold it. Nowhere did the statute expressly say that tenants had that right against the new landlord, but it was clear that s 12 was concerned with the right of tenants to compel a sale by a new landlord. The court concluded that the landlord's duty to give effect to a purchase notice was found expressly or implicity in the Act.

David Neuberger QC, Edward Denehan (J.E. Kennedy & Co, Harrow on the Hill) for the app- licant; Kim Lewison QC, Simon Brillian (Wallace & Ptrs) for the respondent.