Law Report: Case summaries

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

Evidence

R v Holman; CA (Crim Div) (Mann LJ, Ognall, Buckley JJ); 23 July 1992.

It must be seldom indeed that the evidence given by a defendant as to the res gestae could ever be said to be evidence given with a view to the establishment of good character, so as to justify a judge exercising his discretion under s 1, proviso (f)(ii) of the Criminal Evidence Act 1898, to permit the prosecution to cross-examine the defendant as to his previous convictions.

Desmond de Silva QC and Notu Hoon (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the defendant; Max Hill (CPS Essex) for the Crown.

Landlord and Tenant

Brent London Borough Council v Sharma & anr; CA (Stuart-Smith, Scott LJJ); 23 July 1992.

The surrender of a tenancy by operation of law required unequivocal conduct of both parties which was inconsistent with the continuance of the existing tenancy. The court was entitled to look at the whole conduct of a landlord prior to issuing proceedings. If by the time of issue of proceedings it was plain that the landlord had shown by his conduct that the tenancy was no longer acceptable, the operation of surrender of the tenancy was established. The fact that the landlord had served notice to quit was only one of the factors to be considered.

Shane Dougall (Richmonds) for the tenant; Terence Gallivan (Roger Hamilton, Brent LBC) for the landlord.

Magistrates

R v West Norfolk Justices, ex p McMullen; QBD (Div Ct) (McCowan LJ, Popplewell J); 20 July 1992.

Where a magistrates court had begun to try an information summarily, it had an unfettered discretion, under s 25(2) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980, to discontinue the trial before the conclusion of the evidence for the prosecution and to inquire into the information as examining justices, if a good reason was demonstrated. However, the fact that a co-accused had elected trial on indictment at an earlier hearing was not a good reason.

Charles Byers (Pearson & Starling, King's Lynn) for the applicant; Amanda Pinto (CPS, Norfolk) for respondent.

Offensive Weapons

DPP v Godwin; QBD (Div Ct) (McCowan LJ, Popplewell J); 21 July 1992.

Once the prosecution had proved that a defendant had with him in a public place a sharply pointed article with a cutting edge exceeding three inches, namely a red-handled knife, the defendant was guilty of an offence under s 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, unless he could discharge the burden placed on him by s 139(4) and show that he had a good reason for having the knife. However, the court was entitled to disbelieve his reason on the balance of probabilities, even if there was no evidence to rebut it.

Arthur Blake (Somers & Blake) for the defendant; John McGuinness (CPS, North London) for the DPP.

Negligence

Pritchard v Clwyd County Council & anr; CA (Stocker, Beldam LJJ); 16 June 1992.

The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur did not apply to a collection of up to three to nine inches of floodwater in a road after heavy rainfall as it was not of itself evidence of the non-repair or lack of maintenance of the highway or sewers. The judge was not entitled, on that evidence alone, to hold that the local authorities had been in breach of their common law duty to take reasonable care or had failed to carry out their statutory duties. The local authorities were not liable for injuries caused to the plaintiff when crossing the road.

Timothy Trotman (Walker Smith & Way, Wrexham) for the local authorities; Tania Griffiths (Edwin Coe, for Clement Jones, Llandudno) for the plaintiff.

Revenue

Collins v Addies (Inspector of Taxes); CA (Nourse, Glidewell, Stocker LJJ); 31 July 1992.

A charge to income tax arose under s 287(1) of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 (s 421 (1) of the 1988 Act) on the release of a debt owed to a close company by a participator where the release formed part of the consideration for the sale of shares in the company. There was nothing in s 287(1) to limit such a release to gratuitous releases and to exclude releases for which consideration was given.

Andrew Thornhill QC (Franks Charlesly & Co) for the taxpayers; Launcelot Henderson (Inland Revenue) for the Crown.

Road Traffic

R v Callister; CA (Crim Div) (Beldam LJ, Ian Kennedy, Moreland JJ); 21 July 1992.

A motorist should only be disqualified in a case involving bad driving, persistent motoring offences, or the use of a vehicle for the purposes of crime.

Selwyn Shapiro (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant.

Value Added Tax

Customs & Excise Commissioners v Briararch Ltd; Customs & Excise Commissioners v Curtis Henderson Ltd; QBD (Hutchison J); 20 July 1992.

Where a builder completed a building with the intention of selling it (a zero- rated supply) but let it on a short lease before sale (an exempt supply), he was entitled to recover an apportioned part of input tax paid.

Patrick Soares (Bretherton Price & Elgoods, Cheltenham) for the taxpayers; Richard Drabble (Customs & Excise Solicitor) for the Crown.

Correction

In R v Master of the Rolls, ex p McKinnel (the Independent, 12 August 1992), the reference to s 47(a)(b) in the first paragraph should read s 47(1)(b) and the applicants solicitors were Colin Watson & Co, Warrington.

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