Bracegirdle v Oxley and Cobley: 1947

The facts proved or admitted pointed inescapably to the conclusion that the drivers had driven dangerously. But the justices, in defiance of Divisional Court authority, concluded that the driving was not dangerous. The point has been decided adversely to the defendant in two previous High Court decisions. The prosecutor appealed by case stated.
Held: Humphreys J said: ‘I only desire to say that for a very great number of years, whenever justices have found facts from which only one conclusion can be drawn by reasonable persons honestly applying their minds to the question, and have refused to draw that only conclusion, this court has invariably upset the decision of the justices in the appropriate manner.’ and ‘If justices persist in disregarding decisions given previously by this Court on a set of facts which cannot be distinguished from the facts which are before the Justices in any particular case, they are guilty of a grave dereliction of duty, because it is their duty to obey the rulings of this Court’.
Lord Goddard CJ: ‘It is said that this court is bound by the findings of fact set out in the cases by the magistrates. It is true that this court does not sit as a general court of appeal against magistrates’ decisions in the same way as quarter sessions. In this court we only sit to review the magistrates’ decisions on points of law, being bound by the facts which they have found, provided always that there is evidence on which they could come to the conclusions of fact at which they have arrived. Mr Parker, who has intervened in this case as amicus curiae to enable the court to have the benefit of a full argument on each side, concedes that if magistrates come to a decision to which no reasonable bench of magistrates, applying their minds to proper considerations and giving themselves proper directions, could come, then this court can interfere, because the position is exactly the same as if the magistrates had come to a decision of fact without evidence to support it. Sometimes it has been said of the verdict of a jury given in those circumstances, that it is perverse, and I should have no hesitation in applying that term to the decisions of magistrates which are arrived at without evidence to support them.’
Humphreys J, Lord Goddard CJ
[1947] KB 349, [1947] 1 All ER 126
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Uddin Admn 8-Jun-2006
Prosecutor’s appeal by case stated against dismissal of charge of taking vehicle without the owner’s consent. Officer’s fleeting sight of defendant who was known to him driving. . .
EndorsedRegina v Mildenhall Magistrates’ Court, Ex Parte Forest Heath District Council; Regina v North West Suffolk (Mildenhall) Magistrates’ Court ex parte Forest Heath District Council CA 16-Apr-1997
The Magistrates appealed against an order of mandamus requiring a case to be stated after rejecting the request by the authority as frivolous. The authority had sought to prevent the emission of noise from land used for a Motocross racing track.
CitedSkelton, Regina (on The Application of) v Winchester Crown Court Admn 5-Dec-2017
The Court was asked whether the Crown Court could properly refuse to state a case for the opinion of the divisional court, having convicted a defendant, on her appeal from the magistrates’ court, of an offence of common assault. She was evicted from . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 19 May 2021; Ref: scu.242963