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 Wychaven District Council v Secretary of State for the Environment & anr; CA (Leggatt, Roch, Morritt LJJ); 5 Oct 1994.

In dismissing a local authority's appeal, under s 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, against the Secretary of State's grant of planning permission, the judge erred in refusing the Secretary of State his costs on the ground that he should only get his costs if a matter of state principle arose.

Richard Drabble (Treasury Solicitor) for the Secretary of State; Timothy Jones (Council Solicitor) for the council.

European law Chiron Corporation & ors v Murex Diagnostics Ltd; CA (Balcombe, Staughton, Rose LJJ); 6 Oct 1994.

The essence of a preliminary ruling by the European Court of Justice under art 177 of the Treaty of Rome was that it must precede the judgment of the referring court. Accordingly, once the domestic court had given judgment and had drawn up the order, it was functus officio and had no power to make a reference under art 177.

For the purpose of art 177, where there was no right to apply to the House of Lords for leave to appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeal, the appeal court was the court 'against whose decision there is no judicial remedy under the national law'.

Alastair Wilson QC, Jessica Jones (Needham & Grant) for the applicant; David Kitchin QC, David Anderson (Bristows Cooke & Carpmael) for the respondent.

Evidence R v Mattey & Queeley; CA (Cr Div) (Glidewell LJ, French, Buckley JJ); 10 Oct 1994.

The standard of proof a defendant had to satisfy when he sought to admit a statement or statements in a document under s 23 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 was not the criminal standard of proof, but the normal civil standard, ie 'on a balance of probabilities'.

Julian Howells (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellants; Hilary Roberts (CPS) for the Crown.

Identification R v Williams (John); CA (Cr Div) (Glidewell LJ, French, Buckley JJ); 4 Oct 1994.

In an identification case where the prosecution relied on the evidence of a single identifying witness who had observed the defendant for one or two seconds from a moving vehicle, and a submission of no case to answer was made, key questions were: (i) what was the quality of the identification evidence? and (ii) was its quality such as to be fit to be left to the jury?

It was not sufficient simply to ask whether it was a 'fleeting glance' case (R v Tur nbull (1977) QB 224 considered).

William Davis (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant; Patrick Darby (CPS) for the Crown.

Prosecution R v Stafford Crown Court, ex p Uppall; QB (Div Ct) (Beldam LJ, Buxton J); 7 Oct 1994.

It was not an abuse for the Crown Prosecution Service to charge a defendant with a fresh offence, thereby subjecting him to new custody time limits, unless it could be shown that the new charge was preferred simply for the purpose of extending custody time limits.

It was desirable, however, for the prosecution to review all the evidence at the earliest possible moment when deciding whether to bring further charges and to comply with the initial custody time limits as far as possible.

Balbir Singh (Murria, Birmingham) for the applicant; Michael Murrow (CPS) for the respondents.

Sentencing R v H (a sexual offender); CA (Cr Div) (Lord Taylor of Gosforth LCJ, Potts, Sachs JJ); 10 October.

When varying, from three to two years' imprisonment, the sentence to be imposed for an indecent assault on a female, the court observed that Parliament might consider it appropriate to reconsider the maximum sentence for unlawful sexual intercourse (only two years' imprisonment) since that for indecent assault carried the maximum of 10 years.

Miss D Knight (Registrar of Criminal Appeals) for the appellant.

VAT Trustees of the Nell Gwynn House Maintenance Fund v Commissioners of Customs & Excise; QBD (Popplewell J); 18 Oct 1994.

The trustees of a fund to be used for the maintenance of a block of service flats were liable for VAT in respect of salaries and wages paid to the maintenance staff. A taxable supply of services was made for consideration, notwithstanding that the fund consisted of contributions by the lessees of the property for whose benefit it was held on trust.

Nor was the supply exempt as part of a package constituting the grant of an interest in land under the Value Added Tax Act 1983, Sch 6, group 1, item 1 (Sch 9, group 1, item 1, VAT Act 1994) because the trustees making the alleged supply were separate from the landlord making the grant.

Christopher McCall QC, Joe Smouha (H H Mainprice) for the trustees; Nigel Pleming QC (Customs & Excise) for the Crown.

VAT calculation GUS Merchandise Corporation Ltd v Commissioners of Customs & Excise; CA (Steyn, Saville LJJ, Sir John May); 20 Oct 1994.

A greater amount of VAT was payable by mail order companies on sales of goods to their 'agents' for the agents' own use that on sales of goods for resale. An apportionment was made between types of transaction on the basis of samples conducted by companies. It was discovered that the sampling techniques had been inaccurate and too much VAT had been paid over a long period, but the excess could not be recovered because correspondence in evidence showed there had been a binding agreement with Customs as to the method of calculation.

David Goy QC, Hugh Mckay (Paisner & Co) for the taxpayer; Nigel Pleming QC (Customs & Excise Solicitors) for the Crown.