Sources of Law – Judicial precedent

The Facts – An advertising company was approached with a view to preparing a campaign for a small company, Easipower, with whom they had not previously dealt. The advertisers then did the most sensible thing in the circumstances and approached Easipower's bank for a credit reference. The bank gave a satisfactory reference without checking on their current financial standing and the advertisers produced the campaign they then lost money when Easipower went into liquidation. They sued the bank for negligently prepared advice

Res Judicata – The Judge found for the Heller. Ratio Decidendi – They failed because the bank had included a disclaimer of liability in the credit reference. Nevertheless, the H of L, approving Lord Denning's dissenting judgment in the last case, held that such an action should be possible, and this has subsequently been accepted as law. Obiter Dicta – The H of L held that in the appropriate circumstances there could be a duty to take reasonable care in giving information. There appeared to be three requirements fort when the principle could apply:

Here the courts interpreted a series of acts as one transaction. The D's had attempted to kill their V by beating him over the head, then threw what the assumed a dead body over a cliff. V did die, but from the fall and the exposure, and not form the beating, thus there was an argument that at the time of the actus reus, the D's no longer had the mens rea. The Privy Council held that throwing V over the cliff was part of a series of acts following a preconceived plan of action, and therefore couldn't be seen as separate acts at all, but as a single transaction.

The D's had the required mens rea when the transaction began and therefore mens rea and actus reus had coincided for the purposes of law. Followed in Fagan v Commissioner of Police (1969) The concept of a continuing act was used in this case to allow what seemed to be an omission, to be treated as a positive act. D was told by a police officer to bring his car closer to the curb. He obeyed the order, but in doing so he accidentally drove his car onto the constables foot. The constable shouted, "get off you're on my foot" to which the D replied, "fuck you, you can wait" and turned off the ignition.

He was convicted of assaulting the police officer in the execution of his duty and appealed on the grounds that at the time he committed the act of driving onto the officers foot, he lacked the mens rea, and although he had the mens rea when he refused to remove the car, this was an omission and the actus reus required was a positive act. His appeal was dismissed and the court held that driving on to the officers foot and staying there was one continuous act, rather than an act followed by an omission – so long as the D had the mens rea at some point during the continuing act, he was liable.

Facts: Mrs Ryan had confessed that she had brought a videocassette recorder for i?? 110 in the belief that it was a stolen one and was charged with both handling and attempted handling of stolen goods. In the event, the prosecution did not believe that it would be able or establish that the goods had been stolen, so the first charge was dropped and only the attempted handling charge pursued. Held: The Magistrates reused to convict but the divisional; Court supported the prosecutions appeal on the point of law.

The H f L quashed the conviction, obviously believing that it would be unjust to find liability in a case such as this. R v Shivpuri (1986) Facts: The defendant was arrested by Aston's officials on his return from a visit to India. While he was there, he had been approached by a dealer in drugs, who had offered him i?? 1000 to take control of a suitcase in Cambridge, the contents of which he was later to distribute to others. He believed that the drugs were either heroin or cannabis. He was later arrested in Southall, London, as he handed over a packer to a third party.

This packet and the others in the lining of his suitcase were found to contain a harmless vegetable matter like snuff, not harmful drugs. The defendant argued, therefore, that his conviction for attempting to know concerned in dealing with a prohibited drug should be quashed on the grounds that the complete offence was impossible. Held: The H of L overturned Anderton and so the defendant was guilty of an attempt even though the facts were that the actual offence was impossible. The defendant had intended to receive, store and pass on to others packages of cannabis or heroin.

He had done an act, which was more than preparatory to the commission of the offence the defense must therefore be guilty. Their Lordships unanimously decided to overrule Anderton v Ryan, using the rights given under the Practice Statement of 1966 to do so and dismissed the appeal in Shivpuri. The position is at last clear a person can be found guilty of attempt even though the actual crime is impossible.  Miliangos v George Frank (Textiles) Ltd (1976)/Havana Railways (1961) – contract.

Miliangos v George Frank (Textiles) Ltd (1976) Facts: Held: The C of A accepted that the general rule in tort was that the damages should be assessed at the date of breech. This was a principle clearly enunciated by Lord Wilberforce in the Court of Appeal in 1976 in this case of Miliangos v George Frank (Textiles) Ltd but Lord Wilberforce had made it clear that the rule was subject to exceptions. In particular, where that rule would produce injustice, the court had discretion to take some other date of assessment of damages.