LAW REPORT: Bind-over no bar to action against police - Hourihane and a nother v Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Court of Appeal (Sir Thomas Bingham, Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Beldam and Lord Justice Hoffmann), 19 Decemb er 1994

A defendant against whom charges had been dismissed with costs was not automatically precluded from claiming that he had won the case and suing the police for malicious prosecution simply because he had agreed to be bound over to keep the peace.

The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed an appeal by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner against the refusal of Judge Quentin Edwards to strike out a claim for malicious prosecution brought against him by the plaintiffs, Joanna and Sarah Hourihane.

The two sisters had been arrested after an incident outside a public house and were charged with assault and disorderly behaviour. At Old Street Magistrates' Court, both disputed the charges and, subject to the court's approval, the Crown Prosecution Service offered not to proceed if they agreed to be bound over to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. They agreed and each was bound over, in her own recognisance of £50, for six months; the charges were dismissed and they were granted costs from central funds.

They subsequently brought an action for damages for false imprisonment, assault and battery and malicious prosecution. The Commissioner sought to strike out the action on the ground that prosecution had not been determined in the plaintiffs' favour.

Colin Challenger (Metropolitan Police Solicitor) for the Commissioner; Tim Owen (Magrath & Co) for the plaintiffs.

Lord Justice Beldam said: The fact that on the occasion when the charges were dismissed the plaintiffs were bound over to keep the peace and be of good behaviour could not of itself bar their claim that the dismissed charges were maliciously brought.

An acquitted defendant might be bound over. Nor did the fact that an acquitted defendant had been bound over necessarily mean the justices were satisfied he had been guilty of conduct amounting to a breach of the peace. Justices need only have material before them from which they could reasonably consider there was a risk of a breach of the peace in the future unless action was taken to prevent it.

There might be many reasons why a defendant would prefer to agree to be bound over to keep the peace in future than to run the risk of a conviction. If he was not convicted, the fact that he was bound over would not form part of his record. It was therefore impossible to draw any inference that proceedings had terminated adversely to a defendant from the mere statement that he was bound over to keep the peace, or from his agreement to that course. In the present case the record showed that, no evidence having been offered against the plaintiffs, the charges for which they were prosecuted were dismissed. As the issue in the civil proceedings was whether the charges were brought maliciously and without reasonable and probable cause, the existence of a record showing that, following dismissal of the charges, the plaintiffs were bound over could not be a good ground for striking out their claims.

Lord Justice Hoffmann gave a concurring judgment.

Sir Thomas Bingham MR, also concurring, said a claim could be struck out only if it was bound to fail.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions