Law Report: Case Summaries

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

Children

Berkshire County Council v C; FD (Johnson J); 17 Nov 1992

The family proceedings court, when making an interim order, had jurisdiction under s 38(6) of the Children Act 1989 to direct the local authority to arrange for a child in its interim care to be assessed by a suitably qualified social worker. Before giving the direction, which might have financial or human resource implications on the local authority, the court should take into account the available information about the local authority's financial resources and bear in mind any financial difficulties.

Matthias Kelly (County Solicitor) for Berkshire County Council; Judith Parker QC and Francesca Blatch (Hodders) for the guardian ad litem; Diana Barnett (Rowberry Morris) for the second respondent; David Turner (Griffiths Robertson) for the third and fourth respondents.

Crown court

DPP v Szarzynski; QBD(DC) (Kennedy LJ, Waterhouse J); 5 Nov 1992.

The Crown Court, when hearing an appeal from a magistrates' court, is under a duty to make proper findings of fact. The court should say in the case stated whether a necessary fact had been proved or not. If a two member court disagreed irrevocably as to whether a fact had been established, it should as a last resort abandon the hearing and cause the case to be relisted. The chairman could not regard himself as having a casting vote.

Simon Russell-Flint (CPS) for the DPP; David Sharp (Barda & Vidgen, South Ruislip) for the defendant.

Crime

R v Blackburn; CA (Crim Div) (Farquharson LJ, Henry, Bracewell JJ); 5 Nov 1992.

There should be a rule of practice or a procedural requirement ensuring that proper notice is given of the intention in a criminal trial to take technical points, such as an objection under s 69 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to the admissibility of a document which is admissible under s 24 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. The court would be extremely reluctant to hold that a document produced on a word processor rather than on a typewriter or by a quill pen thereby becomes a document produced by a computer to which s 69 applies, rather than a document produced by the writer. If it were so, the welcome reforms in s 24 would be greatly diminished and with the almost universal use of word processors almost every business document would be subject to s 69, which cannot have been Parliament's intention.

Nicholas Paul and Graham Davies (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellants; Geoffrey Gelbert (CPS) for the Crown.

R v Hill; CA (Crim Div) (Staughton LJ, Waterhouse, McCullough JJ); 4 Nov 1992.

Although the prosecution is not required in every case involving drugs to adduce scientific evidence, such as an analyst's certificate, to identify a prohibited drug, the prosecution must establish the identity of the drug specified in the charge with sufficient certainty to satisfy the standard of proof required in a criminal case.

Michael Hodson (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Simon Wood (CPS) for the Crown.

R v Richens; CA (Crim Div) (Lord Taylor CJ, Hutchison, Holland JJ); 5 Nov 1992.

On a charge of murder, lies and attempts to cover up the killing are not necessarily inconsistent with a defence of provocation since an accused who killed by loss of self control and thus possibly faced a lengthy term of imprisonment had as strong reasons for attempting to conceal his crime as one who killed deliberately.

Sir Jonah Walker-Smith (Kidd Rapinet, Aylesbury) for the appellant; Godfrey Carey QC and Richard Anelay (CPS) for the Crown.

Inheritance

Powell v Osbourne; CA (Dillon, Simon Brown LJJ); 16 Nov 1992

On an application by a dependant invoking s 9(1) of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 where the joint tenancy to which the deceased was entitled consisted of a property the mortgage on which was supported by a life policy on the joint lives of the deceased and another, the court was entitled to have regard to the imminence of death in determining the value of the deceased's severable share thereof 'immediately before his death'.

Noah Weiniger (Coldham Shield & Mace, Walthamstow) for the applicant; Anthony Bradley (Edward Fail Bradshaw Waterson) for the respondent.

Revenue

Beecham Group plc v Inland Revenue Commissioners; ChD (Mervyn Davies J); 6 Nov 1992.

A taxpayer was not prevented from seeking a declaration in the High Court to the effect that the Revenue was entitled to issue a notice under the Taxes Act 1988, s 772(3) requiring information with a view to making assessments under s 770 (sales at undervalue etc) which would cost the taxpayer substantial sums to provide. Where there was no statutory appeal procedure available to challenge such a notice and the taxpayer would be exposed to penalties for non-compliance, the court had jurisdiction to hear the taxpayer's application even when the appeals relating to the years in question were before the appeal commissioners.

Timothy Brennan (Inland Revenue Solicitor) for the Crown; Graham Aaronson QC (Linklaters & Paines) for the taxpayer.

Sentence

R v Tomlinson and ors; CA (Crim Div) (Leggatt LJ, Rougier, Sedley JJ); 12 Nov 1992.

The approach to take when sentencing for an offence of violent disorder was to take into account the delay involved in mounting the trial, the extent of actual violence used by each individual and good character. The essence of the offence was not the individual act but the using of violence in circumstances where so many people were present as to cause or inspire fear in the general public, and the court must look at the individual act in the context of that fear.

Martin Levett (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant.

Value added tax

Fine Art Developments plc v Customs and Excise Commissioners; QBD (Brooke J); 27 Nov 1992.

A company carrying on a mail order business selling goods at a discount to non-taxable persons could not escape paying VAT on an 'open market value' higher than the price they had received by pleading ignorance of the purpose of the purchaser. Customs and Excise were entitled to issue a direction under para 3 of Sch 4 to the Value Added Tax Act 1983 that tax should be accounted for on an open market value which would provide a framework within which the company's taxable sales could be negotiated.

Andrew Park QC and Gerald Barling QC (Shakespeares, Birmingham) for the company; Nigel Pleming QC (Customs & Excise Solicitor) for the Crown.

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