QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF MAYOR & BURGESSES OF LONDON BOROUGH OF NEWHAM||(CLAIMANT)|
|STRATFORD MAGISTRATES' COURT||(DEFENDANT)|
Computer-Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of
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MR S A H ROY (instructed by London Borough of Newham) appeared on behalf of the CLAIMANT
The DEFENDANT was not represented
Crown Copyright ©
"On or about the 16th day of March 2002 you did apply a false trade description to goods, namely a Honda Accord LSi motor vehicle registration mark S839 RKH, by means of the odometer that the vehicle had travelled approximately 28,000 miles whereas it had travelled approximately 106,362 miles by 13th December 2001, contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968."
Charge five contained the corresponding allegation by reference to section 1(1)(a) of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 with regard to the sale of the Audi A4 on 17th February 2002. Charge six likewise contained the corresponding charge by reference to section 1(1)(a) of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 with regard to the sale of the BMW 5 on 1st April 2002.
"On or about 1st April 2002 you did apply a false trade description to goods namely a BMW 525 TDS SE motor vehicle registration mark N130 DNO by means of service records that the vehicle had travelled approximately 85,360 miles whereas it had travelled approximately 166,340 miles by 19th March 2002, contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968."
The eighth charge:
"On or about 1st April 2002 you did apply a false trade description to goods namely a BMW 525 TDS SE motor vehicle registration mark N130 DNO by means of service records that the vehicle had been serviced by the Hughenden Motor Co of High Wycombe which was false, contrary to section 1(1)(a) of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968."
The seventh and eighth charges therefore related to the same sale of the same BMW vehicle as mentioned in the third charge; but in this case there were allegations of false service records as to how many miles the vehicle travelled and further allegations of false records as to servicing. There were a number of other charges also contained on the draft summons which, as I have said, comprise 14 in number: some of those further charges being alleged offences under the Fair Trading Act 1973.
"I have consulted District Judge Simms. The summonses numbers 1, 2, 3, 7 and 8 are refused. Too many offences on the same facts are alleged with regard to summonses 1, 2 and 3. The court is not inclined to accept that the facts of 7 and 8 amount to a false trade description but, in any event, it will not allow proceedings of two false descriptions for the same vehicle. Return to prosecutor for amendment."
"It is agreed that, for example, offences 1, 4 and 9 can be described as separate offences in relation to vehicle S839 RKH but the fact that a number of offences can be constructed out of different aspects of the same facts is not necessarily a reason for charging all those offences. In the view of the District Judge the justice of the case can be fully met by granting process on offences 4, 5, 6 and 9 to 14. The charges of deception appear to add nothing, nor does the allegation of a second false trade description in regard to an article already falsely described."
It is not necessary to read more.
"The issue of a summons is a judicial act. It is at the discretion of the issuing authority on considering the information or informations. There is no compulsion to issue process for all or any matters sought, though there should be reasons for refusal. The instant proceedings relate to the marketing of three motor vehicles, to each of which a false trade description had been applied. Fourteen summonses were requested. The principal offences were (for each) --
(1) Applying a false trade description.
(2) Supplying goods to which a false trade description has been applied.
(3) Obtaining the sale monies by deception (the false trade descriptions).
There is duplicity in the matters 2 and 3 and the only difference is that dishonesty played a part in the purchaser's transaction.
If the facts are proved the result is that an offence is committed and the defendant's conduct may be aggravated by the facts but the number of offences which can be drawn from the same facts is not aggravating. In the exercise of her discretion the District Judge considered the criminality of the defendant's conduct was adequately met by the summonses which were issued, and those relating to section 15 of the Theft Act 1968 and the summonses referring to additional false trade descriptions to the same vehicles should remain refused."
"In deciding whether to grant the process sought I looked at the total criminality of the defendant's behaviour and came to the conclusion that it was possible to deal with it adequately by allowing the issue of summonses on the offences as at 7(b) and (c) above, [that is applying a false trade description and supplying goods to which a false trade description had been applied, and in respect of one vehicle] but withholding process on 7(a) and (d) above. [I add that those were obtaining the sale price by deception and applying two further false trade descriptions]. The defendant's criminality was not increased by the number of offences which could be formulated on the same set of basic facts. I kept in mind that the powers of the court on summary conviction extended to 12 months imprisonment as a maximum however many offences are prosecuted, and in addition, or in the alternative, fines totalling £30,000 could be imposed in respect of the Trade Description offences. There is also power to commit for sentence on summary conviction. I therefore concluded that justice would not be hindered by allowing a reduced number of offences to be charged."
"When an information has been laid, a justice or the justice's clerk must apply his mind to the information, and go through the judicial exercise of deciding whether or not a summons or a warrant ought to be issued by him. His initial concern will be to see that the information discloses an offence known to law, that is he has territorial jurisdiction to act, that the date of the alleged offence is within any limitation of time, and that any necessary consents to prosecution have been obtained. When considering whether to issue a summons, the justice or justice's clerk has jurisdiction to refuse to issue a summons if to issue a summons would be vexatious and improper, even if there were evidence of the offence."
That, I think, is a convenient general summary of the applicable legal position and I adopt it for the purposes of this case.