Regina v Methyr Tydfil Crown Court ex parte Chief Constable Dyfed Powys Police: Admn 9 Nov 1998

Where the police had exercised their statutory duty in opposing a transfer of justices licence without being unreasonable or acting in bad faith, they should not be ordered to pay the applicant’s costs after a successful appeal to the Crown Court.
Lightman J said: ‘It seems to me quite clear that on the basis of that guidance if the matter were proceeding before the justices there could be no justification for an order that the police pay the costs of Mrs Witter [she was the licensee in that case]. However, the matter has to be reviewed in the context of an appeal to the Crown Court. The Crown Court’s powers as to the costs are contained in rule 12(2) of the Crown Court Rules 1982 which provides that:
‘the Crown Court may make such order for costs as it thinks just.’
On an appeal to the Crown Court, against the refusal to transfer the justices’ licence, any person who objects to that transfer becomes a Respondent: see section 22(3) and section 201(1) of the Licensing Act 1964. Accordingly on this appeal to the Crown Court the Chief Constable had to be made, and was, a Respondent. The submission made on behalf of the Chief Constable is that the principle laid down in the Totnes case applies equally to a hearing before the Crown Court. That is disputed by counsel for Mrs Witter.
In my view, the position is quite clear: the same principle applies before the Crown Court as before the licensing justices. The language of the relevant rules [is] for all practical purposes identical. This is reinforced by the consideration that the proceedings before the Crown Court take place by way of rehearing. In the same way as the justices need the assistance of the police in respect of the provision of any information which may assist them in deciding whether or not an Applicant is a fit person to hold a licence, the Crown Court requires that assistance. It seems to me that no order can properly be made against the police simply on the basis that costs follow the event. The Crown Court can only make such an order if it can be shown that the police’s position has been totally unreasonable or prompted by some improper motive.’
. . And: ‘where the police have a public duty to afford protection to the public in respect of some particular activity, whether it is firearms or the conduct of licensed premises, if they have relevant information which goes to the fitness of an Applicant, then it is in the public interest, and in pursuance of their public duty, that they make their position clear to the relevant Tribunal, whether it is the licensing justices or the Crown Court. If in so long as they act responsibly in accordance with that duty, then no adverse order for costs can be made against them. It is not a simple case of costs following the event; it must be clear, as I indicated earlier, that the police have acted otherwise than in good faith or have acted utterly unreasonably before they are exposed to an Order for costs.’


Lightman J


Times 17-Dec-1998, [1998] EWHC Admin 1058




CitedRegina v Totnes Licensing Justices, ex parte Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall QBD 28-May-1990
The court considered the award of costs in a licensing case. Roch J said: ‘There can be no doubt that in civil proceedings between litigants, be it in the High Court or county court, the principle is that costs follow the event. The winning party . .

Cited by:

CitedChief Constable of West Midlands Police, Regina (On the Application of) v Coventry Crown Court Admn 6-Jun-2000
The Chief Constable sought judicial review of the award against him of costs after a successful appeal against the revocation of a justices’ on-licence for premises in Coventry. The initial revocation had followed the cautioning of members of the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Licensing, Police

Updated: 27 May 2022; Ref: scu.139179