Berkshire and Oxfordshire Magistrates’ Courts v Gannon and Another: QBD 10 May 2000

The applicants had been employed on the administrative staff of a Magistrates’ Court, spending 25-40% of their working day performing duties delegated to them by the clerk to the justices. The Tribunal held that, as an ‘appreciable’ part of their duties was in assisting the JC, they came within the definition in regulation 3(1)(b).
Held: The case was remitted to the Tribunal. The Tribunal had misdirected itself in holding that, for the purposes of the regulation, assisting the JC need be no more than an ‘appreciable’ part of the employment. More was required. Provided a person’s duties at work were predominantly devoted to providing assistance to the holder of the office of justices’ clerk, that person would be entitled to compensation upon termination of office under the Regulations.
Carnwath J explained the meaing of regulation 3: ‘Is it sufficient that assisting the justices’ clerk should be ‘an appreciable (as opposed to insignificant or negligible’) feature of the employment, as the tribunal concluded? Or is Mr Lynch right in submitting that the employment must be wholly or predominately devoted to providing such assistance? . . In my view Mr Lynch is correct on this issue. The words of regulation 3(1) itself are ambiguous. I accept that a person, only part of whose duties consist of assisting the justices’ clerk, could still properly be said to be ’employing in assisting’ him. However, the context is of an employment which is comparable to that of the office of justices’ clerk. That is much more readily understandable in relation to someone whose main job is to assist the clerk, rather than someone who merely spends part of his time assisting the clerk’.
He concluded ‘It would be convenient if one could treat that dividing-line, between delegated and non-delegated functions, as corresponding precisely to the relevant distinction under regulation 3. However, that is not how the regulation is drafted. Nor does it appear, from the Tribunal’s finding, that there was in practice a clear dividing-line. Even the non-delegated functions seem to have been considerably more significant than those of ‘typists, secretaries or ushers.’ A conclusion that these duties, or some of them, also amounted to ‘assisting the clerk’, in the sense defined by the Tribunal, would not necessarily be unreasonable.’


Carnwath J


Times 10-May-2000, [2000] ICR 1003, [2000] EWHC Admin 326




Justices of The Peace Act 1949 (Compensation) Regulations 1978 (1978 No 1682)

Cited by:

ApprovedSlee v Secretary of State for Justice (1) Admn 19-Nov-2007
The claimant sought compensation under the Regulations as a result of her dismissal on the re-organisation of the Magistrates Court at Wimbledon from her position as court clerk. The EAT had allowed her claim for unfair dismissal. Her position on . .
CitedSecretary of State for Justice v Slee CA 24-Jan-2011
The claimant had been found to have been unfailry dismissed by respondent, on the termination of her employment as an assistant Clerk to the Justices. The EAT had upheld her claim, but had at first rejected her claim for long-term and retirement . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Legal Professions, Employment

Updated: 18 May 2022; Ref: scu.78358