Law Report: Case Summaries

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


Austin v DPP; Blake v DPP; QBD (DC) (Watkins LJ, Roch J); 15 Oct 1992.

Where the occupier of premises used by police officers as an observation post feared harassment if the location of the observation post was disclosed, the judge was entitled to refuse a request for disclosure by the defence. It was not necessary to show that the threat of violence as opposed to harassment would be likely to result from disclosure.

Andrew Jefferies (Bindman & Partners; Mildred & Beaumong) for the defendants; Timothy Nash (CPS) for the Crown.

R v K (DT); CA (Crim Div) (Lord Taylor of Gosforth CJ, Potts, Judge JJ); 25 Nov 1992.

When public interest immunity was claimed for a document, it was for the court to rule whether the claim should be upheld or not. The judge should rule on the competing claims of immunity and fairness to the party, claiming disclosure only if he had himself examined the evidence that was in dispute.

Heather Hallett QC, who did not appear below, and Tanoo Mylvaganam (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Ian Paton, who did not appear below (CPS) for the Crown; Richard Tyson (Field Fisher Waterhouse) for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, which held the disputed material.

R v Kelly (RP); CA (Crim Div) (Lord Taylor of Gosforth CJ, Potts, Judge JJ); 25 Nov 1992.

On a charge of aggravated burglary contrary to s 10(1)(b) of the Theft Act 1968, the relevant time at which the prosecution had to prove that the offence was committed by use of an offensive weapon was when the theft actually occurred - that is, that the offensive weapon was intended to be used by the defendant for causing injury to, or incapacitating, the occupier at the time of the theft, thereby aggravating the burglary.

Michael Cousens (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Malcolm Fortune (CPS) for the Crown.


Webb v EMO Air Cargo (UK) Ltd; HL (Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Griffiths, Lord Browne-Wilkinson, Lord Mustill and Lord Slynn of Hadley); 26 Nov 1992.

Where a woman was engaged to cover for a pregnant employee on maternity leave and was dismissed when it was discovered shortly afterwards that she herself was pregnant and would not be available to carry out the primary task for which she had been recruited, her dismissal did not constitute unlawful sex discrimination within s 1(1) of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. However, since it was not clear from European Court of Justice decisions whether her dismissal in such circumstances would be contrary to Council directive EEC/76/207, the matter would be referred to the European Court for a preliminary ruling before final judgment on the appeal was given.

Stephen Sedley QC and Deborah King (Hillingdon Legal Resource Centre) for the applicant; David Pannick QC (Treasury Solicitor) as amicus curiae.

Judicial review

R v Holderness BC, Ex p James Robert Developments Ltd; CA (Dillon, Butler-Sloss, Simon Brown LJJ); 4 Dec 1992.

On an appeal against costs in form but in substance against a refusal to grant judicial review of a decision of a local authority planning committee on the ground of bias, the court (Simon Brown LJ dissenting) held that the appeal had been properly brought to determine the issue of costs even though the substantive issue had become academic.

On the substantive issue, the court (Dillon LJ dissenting) held that the membership of a local builder on the planning committee hearing applications for planning permission from other builders in the area did not give rise inevitably to an appearance of bias.

John McDonald QC and Richard Newbury (Stamp Jackson & Procter, Hull) for the applicant; David Gerrey (borough solicitor) for the council.


Pearson v Kent County Council; CA (Balcombe, Mann, Leggatt LJJ); 18 Nov 1992.

In computing for redundancy purposes the period of continuous employment of an employee who had been absent from work for a period of time, it was necessary under para 9(1)(a) of Sch 13 to the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 for there to be a causal connection between the employee's sickness or injury and his absence.

Laura Cox (Bruce Piper & Co) for the appellant; Evan Ashfield (council solicitor) for the council.


R v Inspector of Taxes, Ex p Bass Holdings Ltd; QBD (Popplewell J); 4 Dec 1992.

An agreement made between a taxpayer and the Revenue under an assessment was susceptible to rectification by the court if the agreement did not reflect the common intention of the parties. Such an agreement was 'final and conclusive' of the issues which it determined, but if its terms or the intention of the parties was challenged, the ordinary rules governing the formation of a contract applied.

David Goldberg QC and John Walter (Linklaters & Paines) for the taxpayer; Alan Moses QC and Launcelot Henderson (Inland Revenue Solicitor) for the Crown.

Value added tax

Customs & Excise Commissioners v Bass plc; QBD (Popplewell J); 4 Dec 1992.

VAT was payable in respect of a 'no show' charge made by a hotel if a customer failed to turn up, having made a reservation guaranteeing accommodation if he arrived after 6pm. There was a supply of services consisting of the guaranteed availability of a room whether it was occupied or not.

Julian Flaux (Customs & Excise Solicitor) for the Crown; Robert Venables QC and Robert Grierson (Bass Group legal department) for the taxpayer.