The House gave guidance how it would treat an invitation to depart from a previous decision of the House. Such a course was possible, but the direction was not an ‘open sesame’ for a differently constituted committee to prefer their views to those of the committee which determined the decision unanimously or by a majority. That would be a licence not appropriate to final decision-making by a supreme court. ‘Their lordships regard the use of precedent as an indispensable foundation upon which to decide what is the law and its application to individual cases. It provides at least some degree of certainty upon which individuals can rely in the conduct of their affairs, as well as a basis for orderly development of legal rules. Their lordships nevertheless recognise that too rigid adherence to precedent may lead to injustice in a particular case and also unduly restrict the proper development of the law. They propose therefore to modify their present practice and, while treating former decisions of this House as normally binding, to depart from a previous decision when it appears right to do so. In this connexion they will bear in mind the danger of disturbing retrospectively the basis on which contracts, settlements of property and fiscal arrangements have been entered into and also the especial need for certainty as to the criminal law. This announcement is not intended to affect the use of precedent elsewhere than in this House.’
 3 All ER 77,  1 WLR 1234
England and Wales
Overruled – London Street Tramways v London County Council HL 25-Apr-1898
House Decisions binding on Itself
The House laid down principles for the doctrine of precedent. When faced with the hypothesis that a case might have been decided in ignorance of the existence of some relevant statutory provision or in reliance on some statutory provision which was . .
Cited – Simpson v Regina CACD 23-May-2003
The appellant challenged a confiscation order made on his conviction of VAT fraud. It was argued that one could not be made unless a proper notice had been given, and none of the offences occurred before 1995. On the assumption that section 1 of the . .
Cited – Regina v Knuller (Publishing, Printing and Promotions) Ltd; Knuller etc v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 1972
The defendants were charged after pasting up in telephone booths advertisements for homosexual services. They published a magazine with similar advertisements. The House was asked to confirm the existence of an offence of outraging public decency. . .
Cited – Rees v Darlington Memorial Hospital NHS Trust HL 16-Oct-2003
The claimant was disabled, and sought sterilisation because she feared the additional difficulties she would face as a mother. The sterilisation failed. She sought damages.
Held: The House having considered the issue in MacFarlane only . .
Cited – Fitzleet Estates Ltd v Cherry HL 9-Nov-1977
Income tax – Schedule D, Cases III and VI – Payments of interest and ground rent incurred when property was being developed – Whether capitalised or paid out of profits or gains brought into charge to tax – Income Tax Act 1952 (15 and 16 Geo. 6 and . .
Cited – Street v Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centre CA 21-Jul-2004
The claimant alleged that she had been dismissed for making qualifying disclosures about her employers. The employer said that her actions had not been in good faith. The claimant answered that her motive was irrelevant. The claimant appealed . .
Cited – Department of Transport v Chris Smaller (Transport) Ltd HL 1989
An application had been made to strike out a claim for want of prosecution. The writ was not issued until the end of the relevant six year limitation period and then not served for a further nine months. The period of inexcusable delay after action . .
Cited – Grovit and others v Doctor and others HL 24-Apr-1997
The plaintiff began a defamation action against seven defendants. Each had admitted publication but pleaded justification. The claims against the fourth to seventh defendants were dismissed by consent, and the third had gone into liquidation. The . .
Cited – Jindal Iron and Steel Co Ltd and others v Islamic Solidarity Shipping Company Jordan Inc (‘The Jordan II’) HL 25-Nov-2004
Cargo was damaged by rough handling during loading and/or discharging, and/or inadequate stowage due to failure to provide dunnage, failure to secure the coils and/or stacking them so that the bottom layers were excessively compressed. The House was . .
Cited – Cassell and Co Ltd v Broome and Another HL 23-Feb-1972
Exemplary Damages Award in Defamation
The plaintiff had been awarded damages for defamation. The defendants pleaded justification. Before the trial the plaintiff gave notice that he wanted additional, exemplary, damages. The trial judge said that such a claim had to have been pleaded. . .
Cited – National Westminster Bank plc v Spectrum Plus Limited and others HL 30-Jun-2005
Former HL decision in Siebe Gorman overruled
The company had become insolvent. The bank had a debenture and claimed that its charge over the book debts had become a fixed charge. The preferential creditors said that the charge was a floating charge and that they took priority.
Held: The . .
Cited – James, Regina v; Regina v Karimi CACD 25-Jan-2006
The defendants appealed their convictions for murder, saying that the court had not properly guided the jury on provocation. The court was faced with apparently conflicting decision of the House of Lords (Smith) and the Privy Council (Holley).
Applied – Regina v Shivpuri HL 15-May-1986
The defendant had been accused of attempting to import controlled drugs, but the substances actually found were not in fact a controlled drug, though he had believed and intended them to be. He appealed saying that he should not be conviced of an . .
Cited – Kay and Another v London Borough of Lambeth and others; Leeds City Council v Price and others and others HL 8-Mar-2006
In each case the local authority sought to recover possession of its own land. In the Lambeth case, they asserted this right as against an overstaying former tenant, and in the Leeds case as against gypsies. In each case the occupiers said that the . .
Cited – Horton v Sadler and Another HL 14-Jun-2006
The claimant had been injured in a road traffic accident for which the defendant was responsible in negligence. The defendant was not insured, and so a claim was to be made against the MIB. The plaintiff issued proceedings just before the expiry of . .
Cited – Gibson v United States of America PC 23-Jul-2007
(The Bahamas) The US government sought the extradition of the appellant from the Bahamas on drugs charges. The warrants were found to be void, and the defendant released unconditionally, when the nmagistrate rejected evidence from an admitted . .
Cited – A v Hoare HL 30-Jan-2008
Each of six claimants sought to pursue claims for damages for sexual assaults which would otherwise be time barred under the 1980 Act after six years. They sought to have the House depart from Stubbings and allow a discretion to the court to extend . .
Cited – Purdy, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions and others CA 19-Feb-2009
The claimant suffered a debilitating terminal disease. She anticipated going to commit suicide at a clinic in Switzerland, and wanted first a clear policy so that her husband who might accompany her would know whether he might be prosecuted under . .
Cited – Purdy, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 30-Jul-2009
Need for Certainty in Scope of Offence
The appellant suffered a severe chronic illness and anticipated that she might want to go to Switzerland to commit suicide. She would need her husband to accompany her, and sought an order requiring the respondent to provide clear guidelines on the . .
Cited – Regina v National Insurance Commissioner, Ex parte Hudson HL 1972
The House considered whether it would have power to make a ruling with prospective effect only. Lord Diplock said the matter deserved further consideration; Lord Simon said that the possibility of prospective overruling should be seriously . .
Cited – Chartbrook Ltd v Persimmon Homes Ltd and Others HL 1-Jul-2009
Mutual Knowledge admissible to construe contract
The parties had entered into a development contract in respect of a site in Wandsworth, under which balancing compensation was to be paid. They disagreed as to its calculation. Persimmon sought rectification to reflect the negotiations.
Held: . .
Cited – Hesperides Hotels Ltd v Aegean Turkish Holidays Ltd, Muftizahde HL 1978
No English action lay for trespass to a hotel on the island of Cyprus, but an action did lie for the conversion of the chattels present in that same hotel. Questions of comity might well be involved, and it had to be for Parliament to change the . .
Cited – Vestey v Inland Revenue Commissioners HL 1979
Taxes are imposed upon subjects by Parliament. A citizen cannot be taxed unless he is designated in clear terms by a taxing Act as a taxpayer and the amount of his liability is clearly defined. A proposition that whether a subject is to be taxed or . .
Cited – Khera v Secretary of State for The Home Department; Khawaja v Secretary of State for The Home Department HL 10-Feb-1983
The appellant Khera’s father had obtained leave to settle in the UK. The appellant obtained leave to join him, but did not disclose that he had married. After his entry his wife in turn sought to join him. The appellant was detained as an illegal . .
Cited – Regina v Howe etc HL 19-Feb-1986
The defendants appealed against their convictions for murder, saying that their defences of duress had been wrongly disallowed.
Held: Duress is not a defence available on a charge of murder. When a defence of duress is raised, the test is . .
Cited – Austin v Mayor and Burgesses of The London Borough of Southwark SC 23-Jun-2010
The appellant’s brother had been the secure tenant of the respondent Council which had in 1987 obtained an order for possession for rent arrears suspended on condition. The condition had not been complied with, but the brother had continued to live . .
Cited – Jones v Kernott SC 9-Nov-2011
Unmarried Couple – Equal division displaced
The parties were unmarried but had lived together. They now disputed the shares in which they had held the family home. It had been bought in joint names, but after Mr Kernott (K) left in 1993, Ms Jones (J) had made all payments on the house. She . .
Cited – Youngsam, Regina (on The Application of) v The Parole Board Admn 7-Apr-2017
The claimant challenged being recalled to prison from licence after being found in an area from which he was excluded as a condition of his parole. . .
Applied – Bancoult, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) SC 29-Jun-2016
Undisclosed Matter inadequate to revisit decision
The claimant sought to have set aside a decision of the House of Lords as to the validity of the 2004 Order, saying that it had been based on a failure by the defendant properly to disclose matters it was under a duty of candour to disclose.
Cited – Willers v Gubay ChD 15-May-2015
The court was asked whether the tort of malicious prosecution of civil proceedings is known to English law.
Held: The Crawfod Adjusters case should not be followed: ‘If I am not bound by Gregory, then I see no reason for departing from the . .
Cited – Regina v Kansal (2) HL 29-Nov-2001
The prosecutor had lead and relied at trial on evidence obtained by compulsory questioning under the 1986 Act.
Held: In doing so the prosecutor was acting to give effect to section 433.
The decision in Lambert to disallow retrospective . .
Cited – Willers v Joyce and Another (Re: Gubay (Deceased) No 2) SC 20-Jul-2016
The Court was asked whether and in what circumstances a lower court may follow a decision of the Privy Council which has reached a different conclusion from that of the House of Lords (or the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal) on an earlier occasion. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Constitutional, Litigation Practice
Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.182382