Dimes v Proprietors of Grand Junction Canal and others: HL 26 Jun 1852

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Cottenham, owned a substantial shareholding in the defendant canal which was an incorporated body. He sat on appeal from the Vice-Chancellor, whose judgment in favour of the company he affirmed. There was an appeal on the grounds that the Lord Chancellor was disqualified.
Held: After consultation, Lord Cottenham was disqualified from sitting as a judge in the cause because he had an interest in the suit. There was no inquiry by the court as to whether a reasonable man would consider Lord Cottenham to be biased and no inquiry as to the circumstances which led to Lord Cottenham sitting.
Lord Campbell said: ‘No one can suppose that Lord Cottenham could be, in the remotest degree, influenced by the interest he had in this concern; but, my Lords, it is of the last importance that the maxim that no man is to be a judge in his own cause should be held sacred. And that is not to be confined to a cause in which he is a party, but applies to a cause in which he has an interest. Since I have had the honour to be Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench, we have again and again set aside proceedings in inferior tribunals because an individual, who had an interest in a cause, took a part in the decision. And it will have a most salutary influence on these tribunals when it is known that this high Court of last resort, in a case in which the Lord Chancellor of England had an interest, considered that his decree was on that account a decree not according to law, and was set aside. This will be a lesson to all inferior tribunals to take care not only that in their decrees they are not influenced by their personal interest, but to avoid the appearance of labouring under such an influence.’

Lord Brougham, Lord Campbell
(1852) 3 HL Cas 759, [1852] EngR 789, (1852) 3 HLC 759, (1852) 10 ER 301
England and Wales
See AlsoDimes v The Company of Proprietors of The Grand Junction Canal CExC 1846
By a local Act of Parliament a company was incorporated and empowered to purchase certain lands ; and all persons seised, possessed of or interested in those lands were empowered to conveyed their right and interest therein to the company, in the . .
See AlsoThe Grand Junction Canal Company v Dimes 1-May-1849
In a suit in which an incorporated company were Plaintiffs, a decree was pronounced by the Vice-Chancellor for England, and was affirmed, on appeal, by the Lord Chancellor. It was afterwards discovered that the Lord Chancellor was a shareholder in . .
Appeal fromThe Grand Junction Canal Company v Dimes CA 4-Feb-1850
The defendant had been committed for the breach of an injunction which he believed had been unlawfully granted in that the Lord Chancellor, on appeal, had decided in favour of the plaintiff company in which he held shares. The defendant again . .
See AlsoDimes v Lord Cottenham 2-May-1850
The Court will not, on the application of the plaintiff, grant a trial at bar merely because the defendant is Lord Chancellor and the plaintiff an attorney of the Court. . .
See AlsoIn Re Dimes 26-Jul-1850
The claimant challenged his committal to prison saying that the order was invalid in that although made under an order of the Vice-Chancellor, the warrant had been endorsed with the letters CC.
Held: Such an endorsement did not mean that the . .

Cited by:
CitedRegina v Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte (No 2) HL 15-Jan-1999
A petition was brought to request that a judgment of the House be set aside because the wife of one their lordships, Lord Hoffmann, was as an unpaid director of a subsidiary of Amnesty International which had in turn been involved in a campaign . .
CitedLocabail (UK) Ltd, Regina v Bayfield Properties Ltd CA 17-Nov-1999
Adverse Comments by Judge Need not be Show of Bias
In five cases, leave to appeal was sought on the basis that a party had been refused disqualification of judges on grounds of bias. The court considered the circumstances under which a fear of bias in a court may prove to be well founded: ‘The mere . .
CitedAl-Hasan, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 16-Feb-2005
Prisoners were disciplined after refusing to be squat searched, saying that the procedure was humiliating and that there were no reasonable grounds to suspect them of any offence against prison discipline. The officer who had been involved in . .
CitedMeerabux v The Attorney General of Belize PC 23-Mar-2005
(Belize) The applicant complained at his removal as a justice of the Supreme Court, stating it was unconstitutional. The complaint had been decided by a member of the Bar Council which had also recommended his removal, and he said it had been . .
CitedIn Re Medicaments and Related Classes of Goods (No 2); Director General of Fair Trading v Proprietary Association of Great Britain and Proprietary Articles Trade Association CA 21-Dec-2000
The claimants alleged that a connection between a member of the Restrictive Practices Court, who was to hear a complaint and another company, disclosed bias against them. She had not recused herself.
Held: When asking whether material . .
Principal JudgmentDimes v The Proprietors Of The Grand Junction Canal and Others 29-Jun-1852
The plaintiff had brought an action to recover land. His appeal failed, but the House later decided that the Lord Chancellor who heard the appeal should have disqualified himself, because he held shareholdings in the defendant company, and his . .
CitedKaur, Regina (on The Application of) v Institute of Legal Executives Appeal Tribunal and Another CA 19-Oct-2011
The claimant appealed against rejection of judicial review of a finding that she had effectively cheated at a professional examination for the Institute. She compained that the presence of a director and the council’s vice-president of the Institute . .
CitedP v The General Council of the Bar; Re P (A Barrister) 24-Jan-2005
(Visitors to the Inns of Court) A Disciplinary Tribunal was convened by the President of COIC pursuant to the 2000 Regulations. It found the barrister guilty of misconduct and suspended her from practice for three months. The Visitors appointed to . .

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Litigation Practice, Natural Justice, Constitutional

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.183299