Mercer v Oldham: QBD 1984

The respondent had recovered his car from the police via a complaint to the magistrates, having lent it to his brother-in-law, who had used it in a burglary. The magistrates found that he had not known of the intended use. The police had taken no steps to ascertain his state of knowledge, and the magistrates ordered the police to pay his costs. The police appealed by case stated against the order for costs.
Held: The appeal was dismissed. The conduct of the police justified the order. In the course of judgment the Court said: ‘In matters of this kind, it was of the utmost assistance to the justices that the police should be present at court, both to indicate whether or not they objected to the order being made, and to test the evidence of a claimant. In such circumstances, the justices would normally make no order for costs. But they did have a discretion, and if they considered that the police had gone beyond the usual rule merely assisting the justices, and actively opposed the order, then there was no reason why the justices should not, in the exercise of their discretion, order the police to pay costs. That was clearly what happened in the present case.’


[1984] Crim LR 232


England and Wales

Magistrates, Police, Costs

Updated: 11 May 2022; Ref: scu.401966