Regina 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 obtains an order for costs against the losing party unless there are exceptional circumstances or reasons why this should not be so.
Mr Barrie has pointed out that the basis of that principle is this: the losing litigant should not have contested the matter before the court. In my judgment it was wrong for the justices to treat this matter as civil proceedings between two private litigants and to ignore the factor urged upon them by the solicitor appearing for the police authority, namely, that the police have a function which they are required to perform. They are required to supervise the proper conduct of the licensed premises and to object in those cases where there are good grounds for objecting to the renewal of the licence. That that is the police’s function is clearly demonstrated by the provisions in the Licensing Act which give the police power to enter licensed premises whether at the invitation of the licensee or not.
In addition, in my view, the police authority must also bring to the attention of the licensing justices matters of which the police know and which can fairly and properly be said to amount to misconduct by the licensee or those for whom he is responsible.
Such factors emphasise the importance of the police being able to discharge their functions with regard to the licensing laws fairly and properly. Of course, if the evidence indicated that an objection by a police authority to the renewal of the justices’ on-licence was misconceived, that it was without [proper] foundation or born of malice or some improper motive, then it would be just and reasonable for the police to be ordered to pay the costs of the successful licensee . . One of the roles the police must fulfil is to enable justices, who have to consider the renewal of licenses, to make informed decisions.’


Roch J


Times 28-May-1990, (1990) 156 JP 587


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court, ex parte Chief Constable Dyfed Powys Police QBD 9-Nov-1998
The Chief Constable, on good grounds, objected to the transfer of a justices’ on-licence to a Mrs W. Mrs W appealed and the Chief Constable, having objected to the transfer, became a respondent. On the appeal Mrs W contended that, since the conduct . .
CitedBradford City Metropolitan District Council v Booth QBD 10-May-2000
The local authority had refused to renew a private hire vehicle licence. That refusal was successfully challenged, and the magistrates had awarded costs on the basis that they should follow the event. The authority appealed.
Held: The . .
CitedPerinpanathan, Regina (on The Application of) v City of Westminster Magistrates Court and Another CA 4-Feb-2010
The appellant’s daughter had been stopped entering the country with andpound;150,000 in cash. The police sought an order for its forfeiture, suspecting a link with terrorism. The magistrates found no evidence of such, and declined to make the order, . .
CitedRegina 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 . .
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.

Costs, Magistrates, Licensing

Updated: 09 May 2022; Ref: scu.196680