QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF NEIL SHUFFLEBOTTOM||(CLAIMANT)|
|CHIEF CONSTABLE OF GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE||(DEFENDANT)|
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MR B CUMMINGS (instructed by CPS, Manchester M60 3PP) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
"On 30 December 2001, at 5pm at Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway, you were the owner of a dog which was dangerous and not kept under proper control. An application is made for you to show cause why an order should not be made for the dog to be kept under proper control or destroyed pursuant to section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871".
"2. Dangerous dogs may be destroyed. Any court of summary jurisdiction may take cognisance of a complaint that a dog is dangerous and not kept under proper control, and if it appears to the court having cognisance of such complaint that such dog is dangerous, the court may make an order in a summary way directing the dog to be kept by the owner under proper control or destroyed."
"(a) The appellant lives at 78 Marlborough Avenue, Cheadle Hulme, Stockport. He is the owner of a dog which is ordinarily kept by him at that address.
"(b) In December 2001, the appellant and his wife went on holiday to Scotland [the case then names those with whom he went on holiday]. They stayed in a caravan in Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway.
"(c) On 30 December 2001 whilst in the caravan, the appellant's dog bit Charlotte Gabbittas causing her serious injuries . . . "
"Were we right to hold that we had jurisdiction to hear a complaint under section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 where the owner of the dog ordinarily keeps it within the commission area for which we have been appointed, notwithstanding that evidence in support of the complaint arises from an incident in Scotland?"
"Where no express provision is made by any Act or the rules specifying what Magistrates' Courts shall have jurisdiction to hear a complaint, a Magistrates' Court shall have such jurisdiction if a complaint relates to anything done within the commission area for which the court is appointed, or anything left undone that ought to have been done there, or ought to have been done either there or elsewhere, or relates to any matter arising within that area."
"Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871 says that any court of summary jurisdiction may take cognisance of a complaint that a dog is dangerous and not kept under proper control. Speaking for myself I think that that means 'any court' within a reasonable distance. If a dangerous dog is to go about the country, and if the fact of its being sent out of the jurisdiction of one particular court is to oust the jurisdiction of that court, the object of the Act would be defeated. It has been decided that the court has the option of ordering the dog to be destroyed. It cannot be suggested here that there was no evidence on which there was jurisdiction to make the order. It would defeat the object of the Act if a temporary sending away of the dog were permissible to prevent the making of an order."
In agreeing with him, Walton J said this:
"Evidence that the dog is dangerous is not confined to evidence as to the behaviour of the dog within the jurisdiction. Evidence as to how it behaved outside the jurisdiction is admissible, and there must also be evidence that the dog is not kept by its owner under proper control. I am inclined to think, but it is not necessary to decide, that the section is confined to cases in which an owner within the jurisdiction fails to keep his dog under proper control, but I am clearly of the opinion that the magistrates have a jurisdiction when an owner within the jurisdiction fails to keep his dog under control outside the jurisdiction."
Those remarks that I have cited were not necessary to the decision of the Divisional Court and have to be read accordingly, but are of interest nonetheless.
"This is in the nature of preventive justice. It is quite right that if a man buys a dangerous dog, a court should be able to say 'you must ensure that for the future it is kept under proper control'."