Cutler v Wandsworth Stadium Ltd: HL 1949

The Act required the occupier of a licensed racetrack to take all steps necessary to secure that, so long as a totalisator was being lawfully operated on the track, there was available for bookmakers space on the track where they could conveniently carry on bookmaking in connection with dog races run on the track on that day. Breach of this provision carried a criminal sanction. A bookmaker who contended that he had not been provided with suitable space brought a claim for an injunction and damages against the operator of the track. His claim succeeded in the High Court but not in the Court of Appeal.
Held: The bookmaker’s appeal failed. There is a general rule of law that where a new statutory obligation is created which at the same time provides a special means of enforcing it, that performance cannot be enforced in any other manner. A law which was not intended to create legal rights and duties would be a mere ‘pious aspiration’. On a proper construction of the particular statute, there was no parliamentary intention to confer private rights of action on bookmakers at a racetrack: the intended enforcement of rights was by means of criminal prosecution.
Lord Simonds said: ‘I do not propose to try to formulate any rules by reference to which such a question can infallibly be answered. The only rule which in all circumstances is valid is that the answer must depend upon a consideration of the whole Act and the circumstances, including the pre-existing law in which it was enacted. But that there are indications which point with more or less force to the one answer or the other is clear from authorities which, even where they do not bind, will have great weight with the House. For instance, if a statutory duty is prescribed but no remedy by way of penalty or otherwise for its breach is imposed, it can be assumed that a right of civil action accrues to the person who is damnified by the breach. For if it were not so, the statute would be but a pious aspiration.’ and ‘As I have mentioned, sub-contractors experiencing undue delay would be able to enforce performance of the Revenue’s duty by an application for judicial review. The absence of a financial remedy for past losses does not deprive the statutory duty of substance.’
Lord Reid said: ‘I find it extremely difficult to reconcile the nature of the provisions of this sub-section with an intention to confer on individual bookmakers rights which each could enforce by civil action. If the legislature had intended to create such rights I would expect to find them capable of reasonably precise definition.’
As to a plea that Parliament should reveal its intention in plain words, Lord Du Parcq said: ‘Parliament must be taken to have known that if it preferred to avoid the crudity of a blunt statement and to leave its intention in that regard to be inferred by the courts, the ‘general rule’ would prevail unless the ‘scope and language’ of the Act established the exception. It cannot be supposed that the draftsman is blind to the principles which the courts have laid down for their own guidance when it becomes necessary for them to fill in such gaps as Parliament may choose to leave in its enactments.’
Lord Simonds, Lord Reid, Lord Du Parcq
[1949] AC 398
Betting and Lotteries Act 1934 11(2)(b)
England and Wales
Citing:
Dictum ApprovedButler (or Black) v Fife Coal Co, Ltd HL 19-Dec-1911
The court considered whether a civil remedy existed for breach of statutory duty. Lord Kinnear said: ‘If the duty be established, I do not think there is any serious question as to civil liability. There is no reasonable ground for maintaining that . .
Appeal fromCutler v Wandsworth Stadium Ltd CA 1945
Morton LJ criticised an application to vary an undertaking given to it: ‘ . . the court does not vary an undertaking given by a litigant. If the litigant has given an undertaking and desires to be released from that undertaking, the application . .

Cited by:
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CitedConsorzio Del Prosciutto Di Parma v Asda Stores Limited and others HL 8-Feb-2001
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CitedTotal Network Sl v Revenue and Customs HL 12-Mar-2008
The House was asked whether an action for unlawful means conspiracy was available against a participant in a missing trader intra-community, or carousel, fraud. The company appealed a finding of liability saying that the VAT Act and Regulations . .
CitedRegina v Deputy Governor of Parkhurst Prison, Ex parte Hague, Weldon v Home Office HL 24-Jul-1991
The prisoner challenged the decision to place him in segregation under Prison Rule 43. Under rule 43(1) the initial power to segregate was given to ‘the governor’. The case arose from the fact that the governor of one prison had purported to . .
CitedConnor v Surrey County Council CA 18-Mar-2010
connor_surreyCA2010
The claimant teacher said that she suffered personal injury from stress after the board of governors improperly failed to protect her from from false complaints. The Council now appealed against an award of substantial damages.
Held: The . .
CitedPoulton v Ministry of Justice CA 22-Apr-2010
The claimant was trustee in bankruptcy but the court failed to register the bankruptcy petition at the Land Registry as a pending action. The bankrupt was therefore able to sell her land, and the trustee did not recover the proceeds. The trustee . .
CitedCampbell v Gordon SC 6-Jul-2016
The employee was injured at work, but in a way excluded from the employers insurance cover. He now sought to make the sole company director liable, hoping in term to take action against the director’s insurance brokers for negligence, the director . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 04 March 2021; Ref: scu.221530