QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF SHARON MARIE TAYLOR||(CLAIMANT)|
|MAIDSTONE CROWN COURT||(DEFENDANT)|
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"Mrs Taylor, having carefully considered the submissions made by Mr Lee on your behalf, and having considered the evidence by Mrs Bishop, and the evidence which you gave, it is the view of all three of us that we do accept the evidence given by Mrs Bishop. We are satisfied on that so that we are sure, and accordingly, this appeal will be dismissed."
As I will explain later, the Recorder gave a further explanation of the decision which was sent by the Crown Court when they acknowledged service. It was submitted on behalf of the claimant that, as this claim challenged the adequacy of the reasoning given by the Crown Court, this constituted a breach of natural justice. Therefore the appropriate remedy for the claimant is one of judicial review, rather than appeal by way of case stated.
" . . . the Crown Court judge giving the decision of the court upon appeal must say enough to demonstrate that the court has identified the main contentious issues in the case and how it resolved them."
Second, the reasoning required of the Crown Court Judge would depend on the circumstances as:
"In some cases, the bald statement that evidence of a particular witness is accepted may be sufficient."
Third, Pill LJ explained that:
"The appellant is entitled to know the basis upon which the prosecution case had been accepted by the court if, like the present case, that involved knowing the process by which the apparently powerful points in favour of the defence had been rejected."
It is submitted by Mr Lee that the reasons given in the Crown Court in Dave are similar in nature to those in the present case. Indeed, there were powerful arguments in favour of the defence in this case; namely that the only prosecution witness had made a previously false allegation to the police about the claimant. In addition, there had been a failure to call any other supposed witnesses which the claimant gave evidence denying the allegations.
"In closing, Mr Lee (for Mrs Taylor) submitted that this was a case of allegations made by one person against another where, notwithstanding there were a number of potential independent witnesses available to the Crown, none had been called. He invited us to look with great care at Mrs Bishop's evidence, inter alia, because she had made a false allegation to the police concerning Mrs Taylor's driving with "bald tyres" (something Mrs Bishop had admitted when she was cross-examined). He addresses us carefully on the burden of proof, informing us that we must allow Mrs Taylor's appeals unless we were sure that we could accept the evidence given by Mrs Bishop concerning various incidents.
"After considering Mrs Bishop's evidence and Mrs Taylor's evidence, each one of us was sure that Mrs Bishop's account of the incidents was truthful and accurate. When we returned to court I gave the decision in the very brief form which appears on the transcript -- in so doing I had in mind paragraph 2-202 of Archbold. Given the thrust of Mr Lee's submissions to us, I thought that this was a case where a bald statement that Mrs Bishop's evidence was accepted was a sufficient statement of the reason(s) why Mrs Taylor's appeal was dismissed."
This was a helpful account of the reasons for the decision but I was concerned as to whether I could take that material into account in order to determine whether the Crown Court had satisfied its obligations.
"Had the court announced its decision in approximately the terms of the case stated the appellant would have no possible grounds for complaint. As it was, and with some sympathy for the Recorder who had no doubt given judgment in terms which must have been followed in very many cases, the court concluded that the reasons given fell short of the minimum required." (Page 207)
I agree with Mr Lee that the decision in that case shows that, in order to determine whether adequate reasons have been given, it is necessary to consider the allegation that inadequate reasons were given in the terms of the words that were actually used when the decision was given rather than on the basis of reasons given later. That view is also supported by a comment in Archbold, paragraph 2-202 on page 209, where it is said:
"Where no reasons were given by a judge when dismissing an appeal, a note of the proceedings subsequently provided by him which was unsupported by affidavit, not signed by the justices sitting on the appeal, was of no real weight. Reasons should be given contemporaneously with the decision so that the losing party could be sure that there was no ex post facto rationalisation."
The authority given for that proposition is at R v Snaresbrook Crown Court ex p Input Management 163 JP 533 DC. Mr Lee has been unable to find that case at that reference but the clear position in this case was that there were matters which, in the form of the admission by the complainant of her previous dishonest statements, not only merited but also actually required the Recorder to explain why they had not been accepted at the time.