Hussain and Others v The London Borough of Waltham Forest: CA 19 Nov 2020

Facts of Spent Conviction Admissible at Common Law

The claimants sought licenses to manage houses in multiple occupation, but were refused, the council relying on spent convictions. The claimants sought summarily to strike out those parts of the pleadings referring to the spent convictions.
Held: For the reasons they gave, the tribunal panel were correct in their conclusion that section 4(1)(a) is, unlike section 4(1)(b), restricted in its scope, and does not include any proscription with regard to evidence of conduct constituting any spent convictions.
Held: The appeal failed: ‘the different words used in section 4(1)(a) and (b) were intended to have different effects so far as scope of the provisions is concerned: the admissibility prohibition in the former is deliberately drafted not to include evidence of conduct constituting the relevant offence(s).’ and ‘At common law, the fact of conviction was not evidence of the underlying facts of the offence; but misconduct which had founded a criminal charge and conviction was admissible in later civil proceedings. Section 11(1) and (2) of the Civil Evidence Act 1968 merely allowed the fact of conviction (which, as Mr Bates submitted, had been capable of proof by way of certification by the relevant court since the Criminal Act 1865) to be admissible in civil proceedings as proof that the relevant person committed the offence (section 11(2)(a)), and allowed the contents of various documents related to the criminal proceedings (such as the complaint and information) to be used as evidence of ‘the facts upon which the conviction is based’ (section 11(2)(b)). However, whilst the 1974 Act may have reversed the extension provided by the 1968 Act so far as spent convictions are concerned, there is nothing to suggest that it intended to reverse the common law position by which evidence of misconduct that had founded a criminal charge and conviction was admissible in later civil proceedings. Where (as is now often the case) a statutory scheme gives a regulator power to pursue both criminal and non-criminal enforcement steps, such a reversal would require regulators to elect which to take, often having to forego criminal proceedings if they wished to take other regulatory action on the licence. ‘
‘i) Section 4(1)(a) of the 1974 Act does not include any proscription with regard to evidence of conduct constituting any spent convictions. On that basis, subject to the agreement of my Lords, I would refuse the appeal.
ii) A local housing authority’s consideration and determination of a grant or revocation of a licence under Part 2 or 3 of the 2004 Act involve ‘proceedings before a judicial authority’ for the purposes of sections 4 and 7 of 1974 Act; so that such an authority has the power under section 7(3) to disapply section 4(1) and admit evidence of a spent conviction if it is satisfied that justice cannot be done without admitting that evidence.’

Sir Terence Etherton MR, Fulford VP CACD, Hickinbottom LJJ
[2020] EWCA Civ 1539, [2021] 1 WLR 922, [2020] WLR(D) 625
Bailii, WLRD
Housing Act 2004, Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
England and Wales
CitedDickinson v Yates CA 27-Nov-1986
The claimant sought damages against the police for assault, wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution arising from an arrest for a suspected drink-driving offence. He was acquitted of charges of assaulting a police officer in the . .
Appeal fromHussain and Others v London Borough of Waltham Forest UTLC 5-Nov-2019
Housing – Licensing under parts 2 and 3 of the Housing Act 2004 – requirement for a licence holder to be a ‘fit and proper person’ – Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 – treatment of spent convictions of a rehabilitated person and related criminal . .
OverruledYA v London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Admn 27-Jul-2016
Claim by way of judicial review challenging the Defendant’s decision to refuse to enter the Claimant on the Defendant’s housing register.
Held: . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.656218