Westminster City Council v Owadally and Another: Admn 17 May 2017

Defendant must plea to charge, and not counsel

The defendants had, through their barrister, entered pleas of guilty, but the crown court had declared the convictions invalid because this had to have been done by the defendants personally, and remitted the cases and the confiscation proceedings to the Magistrates. The prosecutor Council now sought to appeal against that decision.
Held: The matter should have been heard by the Divisional Court, and not the Crown Court: ‘ not the Crown Court. On any view, this was not an appropriate case for an application to vacate a plea, to the Crown Court.’ and ‘Crown Court had no jurisdiction to quash the committal, which was anything but obviously bad’. However: ‘Once the procedural difficulties have been put to one side (as they have in the peculiar circumstances of this matter), the insuperable difficulty is that – as established by authority – the jurisdiction of the magistrates’ court to deal with these either way offences is conditional on strict compliance with the s.17A, MCA requirements. A failure so to comply, here constituted by not taking the indication of pleas from the Respondents personally, meant that the magistrates’ court was acting without jurisdiction. It follows that the committal for sentence was invalid, thus fatally undermining the Crown Court proceedings’
As to the choice between case stated and judicial review: ‘case stated is to be preferred where findings of fact are to be made because the Divisional Court can then proceed on the basis of facts found, rather than having to find them for itself, as it would on a judicial review application. Nor should judicial review be used to circumvent the time limit for appeal by way of case stated.’

Gross LJ, Ouseley J
[2017] EWHC 1092 (Admin)
Magistrates’ Court Act 1980 111
England and Wales
CitedAshton , Regina v; Regina v Draz; Regina v O’Reilly CACD 5-Apr-2006
The court considered three appeals where there had been a procedural irregularity, and where the judge had taken some step to overcome that irregularity. In two cases the Crown Court judge had reconstituted himself as a district judge to correct a . .
CitedRegina v Sheffield Crown Court ex parte Director of Public Prosecutions QBD 3-Mar-1994
Crown Court may only remit case committed for sentence where there had been a plain error. The Court upheld the validity of the decision of the stipendiary magistrate to commit the matter to the Crown Court for sentence and set aside the Crown . .
CitedRegina v Morpeth Ward Justices, ex parte Ward 1992
A bind-over was upheld on people who had noisily and turbulently disrupted a pheasant shoot. . .
CitedRegina v Hereford Magistrates’ Court (ex parte Rowlands, Ingram); Regina v Harrow Youth Court (ex parte Prussia) Admn 10-Feb-1997
The power to adjourn a trial is conferred upon Justices by statute. The divisional court will intervene where defendants have been deprived of a fair opportunity to present their case. The decision whether to grant an adjournment is not a mechanical . .
CitedRevitt, Borg and Barnes v Director of Public Prosecutions Admn 8-Sep-2006
The defendants appealed against refusal of leave to withdraw their pleas of guilty. They argued that the current practice infringed their human rights.
Held: The magistrates had been correct not to allow the defendants to withdraw their pleas. . .
CitedRegina v Ellis 1973
The defendant’s counsel rather than the defendant personally had made his plea of guilty.
Held: The error amounted to a mistrial. The defendant’s conviction was quashed and a retrial ordered.
Edmund Davies LJ said: ‘before a criminal . .
CitedRegina v Williams 1978
At his Crown Court trial, a misunderstanding led the clerk of the court to empanel a jury without first taking the defendant’s not guilty plea. The defendant was convicted and now argued that the trial was a nullity because he had not pleaded.
CitedRegina v Cockshott and Others 1898
The defendant had not been informed of his right to be tried by a jury (on an either way offence) before he pleaded guilty in the magistrates’ court.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The guilty plea was bad.
Wright J discussed the argument . .
CitedRegina v Kent Justices, Ex parte Machin 1952
The applicant had been charged before the justices with indictable offences. He consented to summary trial but it had not been explained to him that he might be committed to the Quarter Sessions for sentence.
Held: The court allowed . .
CitedRegina v Kent Justices, Ex parte Machin 1952
The applicant had been charged before the justices with indictable offences. He consented to summary trial but it had not been explained to him that he might be committed to the Quarter Sessions for sentence.
Held: The court allowed . .
CitedLondon and Clydeside Estates v Aberdeen District Council HL 8-Nov-1979
Identifying ‘maandatory’ and ‘regulatory’
The appellants had sought a Certificate of Alternative Development. The certificate provided was defective in that it did not notify the appellants, as required, of their right to appeal. Their appeal out of time was refused.
Held: The House . .
CitedSekhon, etc v Regina CACD 16-Dec-2002
The defendants appealed against confiscation orders on the basis that in various ways, the Crown had failed to comply with procedural requirements.
Held: The courts must remember the importance of such procedures in the fight against crime, . .
CitedRegina v Soneji and Bullen HL 21-Jul-2005
The defendants had had confiscation orders made against them. They had appealed on the basis that the orders were made more than six months after sentence. The prosecutor now appealed saying that the fact that the order were not timely did not . .
CitedRahmdezfouli, Regina (on The Application of) v Crown Court Sitting At Wood Green and Another Admn 9-Oct-2013
The appellant challenged the refusal to allow him to vacate a guilty plea to a charge of failures to comply with a planning enforcement notice. It had been agreed that the magistrates had failed to ask the two questions required under the 1980 Act. . .
CitedClarke, Regina v; Regina v McDaid HL 6-Feb-2008
An indictment had not been signed despite a clear statutory provision that it should be. The defects were claimed to have been cured by amendment before sentence.
Held: The convictions failed. Sections 1(1) and 2(1) of the 1933 Act which . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Criminal Practice, Planning

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.583979