Law Report: Case Summaries

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

Coroner

R v Coroner for Kent, Ex p Johnstone; QBD(DC) (McCowan LJ, Buxton J); 23 June 1994.

Since neuroleptic malignant syndrome is a reaction to drugs such as neuroleptics, whereas acute exhaustion mania is not, the pathologist at an inquest was wrong to suggest that the two phrases were interchangeable. In those circumstances, the jury's verdict of death by natural causes would be quashed and a fresh inquest ordered. The applicant, who was not legally aided, was awarded costs.

Edward Fitzgerald (Scott- Moncrieff & Harbour, Brighton) for the applicant; Paul Rees (Kent County Council Solicitor) for the coroner.

Crime

R v Taylor (Gary); CA(Crim Div)(Evans LJ, Popplewell, Tucker JJ); 22 July 1994.

It was a fundamental right of a defendant to see and know the identity of his accusers, including witnesses for the Crown, which should only be denied in rare and exceptional cases. Whether such circumstances existed was pre-eminently a decision for the exercise of the trial judge's discretion. In exercising that discretion (1) there must be real grounds for fear of the consequences if the evidence were given and the identity of the witness revealed; (2) the evidence must be sufficiently relevant and important to make it unfair to make the Crown proceed without it; (3) the Crown must satisfy the court that the credit worthiness of the witness had been fully investigated and disclosed; (4)the court must be satisfied that there would be no undue prejudice to the accused; and (5) the court could balance the need for protection of witnesses, including the extent of that protection, against unfairness or the appearance of unfairness.

Alan Rawley QC (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; David Spens (CPS) for the Crown.

R v Gray and ors; CA(Crim Div)(Glidewell LJ, Blofeld, Buxton JJ); 29 July 1994.

Where two persons are engaged in a common enterprise, the acts and declarations of one in pursuance of that common enterprise are admissible against the other. That principle, where a conspiracy was not charged, applied to the commission by two or more people acting in concert of a substantive offence or series of offences, and was limited to evidence which showed the involvement of each of the defendants in the commission of the offence or offences.

Clare Montgomery; Roderick Price; Peter Lodder; Paul Spencer (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the four appellants; Peter W Clarke and Philip Katz (DTI Solicitor) for the Crown.

EC law

French Republic and ors (interveners) v Commission of the European Communities (Case C-327/91); ECJ; 9 Aug 1994.

On 23 Sept 1991 the Commission of the European Communities and the United States signed an agreement on certain measures of co-operation, co-ordination and consultation in relation to the application of their respective competition laws. On an application for a declaration that the agreement was void, the ECJ declared void the act whereby the commission had sought to conclude the agreement, on the ground that by art. 228(1) of the EEC Treaty the commission had the power to negotiate an agreement such as the one in question, but, 'subject to the powers vested in the commission in this field' only the council could conclude such an agreement. The commission's argument that the case came within the proviso because, inter alia, the agreement was a mere administrative one which the commission was competent to conclude, was rejected by the court.

Employment

Mediguard Services Ltd v Thame; EAT (Morison J, Mr AC Blyghton, Mr KM Young); 29 July 1994.

Compensation for unfair dismissal was consideration received by a former employee from his former employer in respect of his employment and therefore constituted 'pay' within art. 119 of the EC Treaty. Accordingly a part- time employee who was unable under domestic law to bring a claim before an industrial tribunal for unfair dismissal could rely instead on art. 119.

Joanne Connolly (Robert Ward-Jones, East Grinstead) for the employer; Caroline Underhill, representative (Avon and Bristol Community Law Centre) for the employee.

R v Inland Revenue Commissioners, Ex p Unilever plc and related appeal; QBD(Macpherson J); 29 July 1994.

The Revenue, having allowed informal claims made by a company for loss of relief against its corporation tax liability over many years, had acted unfairly in refusing similar claims without notice to the taxpayer that the established practice was no longer acceptable. Acquiescence in accepting informal or late claims on previous occasions amounted to a representation that such claims would be accepted. The Revenue should exercise its discretion to allow the claims.

Robert Venables QC and JAmes Kessler (Beachcroft Stanleys) for the taxpayers; Alan Moses QC and Rabinder Singh (Inland Revenue Solicitor) for the Crown.

Value added tax

Primback Ltd v Customs and Excise Commissioners; QBD(May J); 26 July 1994.

A company operating retail scheme A, pursuant to customs notice 727, attracted VAT on the full amount of the advertised price where 'interest-free credit' was offered. The company, which would receive from a finance house a lesser amount reflecting a deduction for interest charges over the period of a loan made to the customer, claimed that the price received for the goods, on which VAT was due, was not the full advertised price but the amount actually received from the finance house. The exemption for the provision of credit in the Value Added Tax Act 1983, Sch 6, grp 5, did not apply since no separate charge for credit was disclosed to the customer.

Roderick Cordara QC and Perdita Cargill-Thompson (HH Mainprice) for the taxpayer; Christopher Vadja (Customs & Excise Solicitor) for the Crown.

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