Law Report: Case Summaries

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


Arab Bank plc v Mercantile Holdings Ltd and anor; ChD (Millett J); 29 Sept 1993.

Section 151 of the Companies Act 1985 does not prohibit a foreign subsidiary of an English parent company from giving financial assistance for the purpose of the acquisition of shares in its parent company. The mere giving of financial assistance by the subsidiary ipso facto does not constitute the giving of such assistance by the parent company.

Michael Briggs (Frere Cholmeley) for the plaintiff; Martin Mann QC and Elspeth Talbot Rice (Leslie Hyman & Co) for the first defendant; Alan Steinfeld QC and Adrian Francis (Ince & Co) for the second defendant.

R v Duffas; CA (Crim Div)(Stuart-Smith LJ, McCullough J, Sir Gervase Sheldon); 4 Oct 1993.

Where a defendant charged with handling stolen goods contary to s 22 of the Theft Act 1968 had admitted that he knew the property was stolen when he received it but maintained that he had not acted dishonestly in receiving it, the judge erred in allowing evidence of a previous conviction for handling stolen goods to be adduced under s 27(3)(b). It was clear from the wording of the section that the only issue to which evidence of such a previous conviction was relevant was that of the defendant's knowledge or belief that the goods were stolen, and it was neither relevant to nor admissible on the separate issue of dishonesty.

Brendan Roche (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Susan Rodham (CPS) for the Crown.

R v Smurthwaite; R v Gill; CA (Crim Div)(Lord Taylor of Gosforth LCJ); (Alliott, Buckley JJ); 11 Aug 1993.

Section 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 had not altered the substantive rule of law that entrapment or the use of an agent provocateur did not by itself afford a defence to a criminal charge. However, a trial judge, in exercising his discretion under s 78, would exclude evidence obtained by entrapment or by an agent provocateur or by a trick if he considered that the obtaining of the evidence would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that he should exclude it. The court listed some facts the judge might take into account in exercising his discretion.

Paul Worsley QC and Kenneth Gillance; Paul Worsley QC and David Wilby (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellants; Malcolm Swift QC and Timothy Roberts; David Gripton (CPS) for the Crown.


Practice Direction: Mercantile List (Birmingham); QBD (Lord Taylor of Gosforth LCJ); 21 Sept 1993.

The Practice Direction provides there will be a new Queen's Bench Division list in the Birmingham District Registry known as 'The Mercantile List (Birmingham)' and sets out the procedure which applies to it. Any action which relates to a commercial or business transaction in a broad sense can be included in the list


R v Williamson; CA (Crim Div)(Lord Taylor of Gosforth LCJ, Otton, Kay JJ); 27 Sept 1993.

A sentence of four years' imprisonment on an appellant who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter following the death of his girlfriend as a result of the practice of consensual mutual partial asphyxiation during sexual intercourse was reduced to three years' imprisonment, but the court wished to make it clear, in case it was not generally known that this practice was dangerous, that anyone indulging in it and causing death in the future was likely to get a substantial sentence.

Michael Gale QC (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant.