DB v Chief Constable of Police Service of Northern Ireland: SC 1 Feb 2017

The appellant said that the police Service of Northern Ireland had failed properly to police the ‘flags protest’ in 2012 and 2013. The issue was not as to the care and effort taken, but an alleged misunderstanding of their powers.
Held: Treacy J was right in his conclusion that the police laboured under a misapprehension as to the extent of their powers and on that account alone the appeal must be allowed.
‘there is no reason to suppose that the avowed gaps in the 1998 Act were other than the product of deliberate legislative intention. Likewise it must now be clearly understood that the Parades Commission had no role where a proposed procession had not been notified. The attempt to persuade the commission to become involved was misconceived. The police did not have power to ban the parades but they had ample legal power to stop them. Contrary to ACC Kerr’s stated position, they could indeed be stopped solely because they were unnotified. There certainly was such a thing as an illegal parade under the Public Processions Act.’
Lord Kerr referred to a number of well-known cases about appellate interference with first instance findings of fact: ‘The statements in all of these cases and, of course, in McGraddie itself were made in relation to trials where oral evidence had been given. On one view, the situation is different where factual findings and the inferences drawn from them are made on the basis of affidavit evidence and consideration of contemporaneous documents. But the vivid expression in Anderson that the first instance trial should be seen as the ‘main event’ rather than a ‘tryout on the road’ has resonance even for a case which does not involve oral testimony. A first instance judgment provides a template on which criticisms are focused and the assessment of factual issues by an appellate court can be a very different exercise in the appeal setting than during the trial. Impressions formed by a judge approaching the matter for the first time may be more reliable than a concentration on the inevitable attack on the validity of conclusions that he or she has reached which is a feature of an appeal founded on a challenge to factual findings. The case for reticence on the part of the appellate court, while perhaps not as strong in a case where no oral evidence has been given, remains cogent.’
Lord Neuberger, President, Lord Kerr, Lord Reed,Lord Hughes, Lord Dyson
[2017] UKSC 7, UKSC 2014/0231
Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary, SC Summary (Video)
Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998, Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 32, European Convention on Human Rights 11
Northern Ireland
Appeal fromDB, Re Judicial Review CANI 1-Jul-2014
A complaint was made that the police had failed properly to understand and implement their duties in managing partisan marches in Northern Ireland.
Held: the 1998 Act had not been undermined by the decisions and actions of the police in . .
At QBNIDB, Re Judicial Review QBNI 28-Apr-2014
The court granted the respondent’s application for judicial review of the policing by PSNI of certain parades which had not been notified in accordance with the requirements of the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998, finding that the . .
CitedMolnar v Hungary ECHR 7-Oct-2008
ECHR The applicant alleged that the dispersal of the demonstration in which she had participated because of a mere lack of prior notification to the police had infringed her freedom of peaceful assembly, within . .
CitedClarke v Edinburgh and District Tramways Co HL 1919
The House considered the ability of an appellate court to reconsider the facts.
Held: The privileges enjoyed by a trial judge extend not only to questions of credibility.
Lord Shaw said that the judge enjoys ‘those advantages, sometimes . .
CitedYuill v Yuill CA 1944
Appellate Court’s Caution in Reassessing Facts
The Court of Appeal was invited to reverse the decision of the judge at first instance to accept the evidence of the petitioner (no evidence having been called by the respondent).
Held: The court considered the caution needed when overturning . .
CitedWatt (or Thomas) v Thomas HL 1947
When Scots Appellate Court may set decision aside
The House considered when it was appropriate for an appellate court in Scotland to set aside the judgment at first instance.
Lord Thankerton said: ‘(1) Where a question of fact has been tried by a judge without a jury, and there is no question . .
CitedOsman v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-Oct-1998
Police’s Complete Immunity was Too Wide
(Grand Chamber) A male teacher developed an obsession with a male pupil. He changed his name by deed poll to the pupil’s surname. He was required to teach at another school. The pupil’s family’s property was subjected to numerous acts of vandalism, . .
CitedRe E (A Child); E v Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Another (Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and others intervening) HL 12-Nov-2008
(Northern Ireland) Children had been taken to school in the face of vehement protests from Loyalists. The parents complained that the police had failed to protect them properly, since the behaviour was so bad as to amount to inhuman or degrading . .
CitedCommissioner of Police for The Metropolis v ZH CA 14-Feb-2013
The claimant was a young epileptic and autistic adult. On a supervised trip to a swimming pool, he became fascinated by the water, and the pool staff called the police. Through the police misunderstanding his needs, he ended up first in the water . .
CitedMcGraddie v McGraddie and Another (Scotland) SC 31-Jul-2013
The parties were father and son, living at first in the US. On the son’s wife becoming seriously ill, the son returned to Scotland. The father advanced a substantal sum for the purchase of a property to live in, but the son put the properties in his . .
CitedAnderson v City of Bessemer City, North Carolina 19-Mar-1985
United States Supreme Court – The court explained some considerations for the deference to be given by an appellate court to findings of fact made by a lower court: ‘The rationale for deference to the original finder of fact is not limited to the . .
CitedHousen v Nikolaisen 28-Mar-2002
Supreme Court of Canada – Torts – Motor vehicles – Highways – Negligence – Liability of rural municipality for failing to post warning signs on local access road — Passenger sustaining injuries in motor vehicle accident on rural road — Trial judge . .
CitedThomson v Kvaerner Govan Limited HL 31-Jul-2003
The defendant appealed reversal on appeal of the award of damages aganst them. The pursuer had been working within the hull of a ship, and the plank on which he was standing had snapped, causing him to fall. The plank should have been of sufficient . .

Cited by:
CitedAdamson, Regina (on The Application of) v Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council CA 18-Feb-2020
Appropriation was not in sufficient form
The claimants had challenged an order supporting the decision of the Council to use their allotments for a new primary school, saying that the land had be appropriated as allotment land, and that therefore the consent of the minister was needed.
Updated: 02 February 2021; Ref: scu.573800