CASE SUMMARIES: 8 May 1995

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

Bigamy

Whiston v Whiston; CA (Russell, Henry, Ward LJJ); 23 March 1995.

A woman who committed bigamy in going through a ceremony of marriage was precluded, on ground of public policy, from applying for ancillary relief after the grant of a decree of nullity under s 11(b) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

Timothy Scott (Hughmans) for the appellant; Dorothy Seddon (Clive Shepherd & Co, Walsall) for the respondent.

Damages

Knutt & anr v Bolton & ors; CA (Russell, Henry, Ward LJJ); 24 March 1995.

Damages for disappointment or distress were not recoverable for breach of contract by an architect retained to design a house, since the provision of pleasure to occupiers, although ancillary, was not the very object of the contract.

Jeremy Cousins (Scott & Co, Stroud) for the appellants; Hugh Evans (Pinsent & Co, Birmingham) for the respondents.

DNA

R v Nathaniel; CA (Cr Div) (Lord Taylor CJ, Owen J, Sir Laurence Verney, Record of London); 16 March 1995.

Evidence of a suspect's DNA profiles provided in 1991 for a rape investigation in respect of which the suspect was acquitted in 1992 was wrongfully admitted in the suspect's later trial for a rape occurring in 1989 because after the 1992 acquittal the blood sample for the DNA profiles should have been destroyed. The judge in the later trial should have exer- cised his discretion under s 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to exclude that evidence.

David Cocks QC, Alisdair Smith (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Mark Moore (CPS) for the Crown.

Evidence

R v Sinclair; CA (Cr Div) (Lord Taylor CJ, Owen J, Sir Laurence Verney, Record of London); 14 March 1995.

Where the victim of an attack died four days after the attack but before the accused was brought to trial, the victim's evidence was admissible at the trial under s 106(1) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 because, at the time the relevant statement was made, the victim was a person and the statement was made by that person.

Simon Farrell (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the defendant; Anthony Fogg (CPS) for the Crown.

Judicial review

R v Liverpool City Council, ex p Muldoon; R v Rent Officer Serice & anr, ex p Kelly; CA (Russell, Hobhouse, Morritt LJJ); 16 March 1995.

For the purpose of RSC Ord 53, r 5(3) the Secretary of State for Social Security was not necessarily a person "directly affected" by judicial review proceedings concerning the payment of housing benefit notwithstanding that, as paymaster general, he had a financial interest in the outcome of such proceedings.

Michael Beloff QC, Richard Drabble (DSS Solicitor) for the appellant; Nigel Pleming QC, Richard Bloomfield (DP Hardy & Co, Liverpool) for the respondents.

Public decency

R v Walker; CA (Cr Div) (Lord Taylor CJ, Laws, Keene JJ); 6 April 1995.

The common law offence of outraging public decency required as a necessary condition of guilt that at least two persons must have been able to witness what happened. A further requirement was that reasonable people might venture out in public without the risk of outrage to certain minimum accepted standards of decency.

James N Harper (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Christopher Prince (CPS) for the Crown.

Threats

R v Richart; CA (Cr Div) (Lord Taylor CJ, Owen J, Sir Laurence Verney, Record of London); 14 March 1995.

Threats made over the telephone or by post did not amount to a "violent offence" within s 3(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991. A threat with an imitation pistol could not lead to physical injury; but the apprehension of the victim was the same in either case. It would be beneficial for courts if the definition of "violent offence" was amended to include words to indicate a violent offence would mean an offence leading to a reasonable apprehension of violence in the victim. Such a threat did not permit the imposition of a longer sentence under s 2(2) of the 1991 Act.

Peter M Ashman (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant.

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