Law Report: Case summaries

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

Costs

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry v Checketts and anor; Re Southbourne Sheet Metal Co Ltd; CA (Nourse, McCowan, Beldam LJJ); 9 July 1992.

Where the Secretary of State had discontinued an application under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 for a disqualification order against a director after affidavits had been put in on both sides but before trial, the ordinary rule as to costs applied and the Secretary of State had to pay the director's costs.

Edward Bannister QC (Shoosmiths & Harrison, Northampton) for the director; Philip Heslop QC and Matthew Collings (Treasury Solicitor) for the applicant.

Crime

R v Lightfoot; CA (Crim Div) (Staughton LJ, Waterhouse, McCullough JJ); 5 October 1992.

There was a clear distinction between a defendant's knowledge of the law and his realisation that he was doing something which was regarded as dishonest by the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people. The fact that a man did not know what was criminal and what was not, or that he did not understand the relevant principles of the civil law, could not save him from conviction if what he did, coupled with his state of mind, satisfied the elements of the crime of which he was accused. Jurors were not likely to have a clear understanding of that distinction. Where the defence was that no dishonesty was involved, and the jury, after retiring, asked whether ignorance of the law was a defence, it was not sufficient for the judge, without inviting counsel to address him, to answer 'No it is not'. The correct procedure was to explain the distinction to the jury and to repeat the direction in R v Ghosh (1982) QB 1053, given in the summing up. His failure to do so amounted to a material misdirection.

Dingle Clark (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Edward Lewis (CPS) for the Crown.

R v Preece; CA(Crim Div)(Staughton LJ, Waterhouse, McCullough JJ); 8 October 1992.

Although there is no general rule of law that the judge must direct the jury on the required burden of proof where there is alibi evidence, he should do so if there is a danger that the jury might consider it was for the defence to prove the alibi.

Christopher Mitchell (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Walter Bealby (CPS) for the Crown.

Landlord and tenant

Hussain v Singh and ors; CA(Beldam, Simon Brown LJJ); 6 October 1992.

Section 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, which came into force on 1 February 1988, and provided that if a landlord failed to furnish a tenant by notice in writing with an address any rent due from the tenant should be treated as not being due at any time before the landlord furnished notice, applied to tenacies created and rent in arrears before that date.

William Geldart (Dean & Co) for the plaintiff; Mary Isles (Hirshfield, Lipson & Vadher) for the first defendant; Timothy Sewell (Dulai & Co) for the second.

Licensing

R v Portsmouth Licensing Justices, ex p Walker; QBD (Henry J); 15 October 1992.

Where justices were considering whether to grant a transfer of a licence, under s 8(1) of the Licensing Act 1964, on the ground that the existing licence holder had given up his 'occupation' of the licensed premises, within the meaning of s 8(1)(d) as extended by s 8(2), the only occupation which counted was that 'for the purpose of carrying on business under a licence'. But the question whether the licence holder had given up such occupation depended not just on whether he had voluntarily given up carrying on the business but extended to an involuntary giving up of such business, for example where he had been compelled to give it up or legally deprived of the right to carry it on. That was a question of fact to which the justices had to address themselves.

G Samuel (Anthony Collins & Co, Birmingham) for the applicants.

Rates

Sears Investment Trust Ltd & ors v Lewis's Group Ltd (in liquidation) & anr; Ch D (Harman J); 31 July 1992.

The right to recover overpaid rates in respect of a department store, following its sale, was not transferred to the purchaser because it did not constitute a 'sale asset' as defined in the sale agreement as including 'all deposits, advance payments, cheques, bills, notes or securities receivable by the vendors at the transfer date'.

In the context of a department store, 'advance payments' clearly referred to payments by customers for goods or services in advance, and its definition in the agreement as 'the amount which the vendors have the benefit of in connection with the business by or in respect of rebates, deposits, pre-payments and other payments in advance' was not wide enough to include a future right to recover so much rates as would, after a rating appeal, turn out to have been overpaid, since the vendors could not be said to 'have' such an amount.

Charles Sparrow QC and Ian Grainger (Titmuss Sainer & Webb) for the plaintiff vendor; David Blunt QC and Jeremy Nicholson (Gamlens) for the second defendant surveyors; the first defendant purchaser did not appear and was not represented.

Right of way

Benn v Hardinge; CA(Dillon, Kennedy, Hirst LJJ); 7 October 1992.

Mere abstinence from use of a right of way is not sufficient to establish an intention on the part of the owner of the right never at any time thereafter to assert the right. In view of the decision in Gotobed v Pridmore (1970) 217 EG 759 and the authorities referred to there, it was not open to the court to hold that the right of way must be presumed to have been abandoned merely because it had not been used even for as long as 176 years.

Nigel Meares (Truman Close Kendal & Appleby, Nottingham) for the appellant; Nicholas Wood (Mayo & Perkins, Eastbourne) for the respondent.

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