by Les Oldridge,
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TEng (CE!), MIMI, AMIRTE
WHEN a person is aggrieved by the decision of a magistrates' court he can appeal in two different ways. If he is dissatisfied because he feels the court has reached the wrong decision on the evidence put before it, he can appeal to the Crown Court where the case will be completely retried. If he pleaded guilty at the original hearing he can appeal against the sentence, that is he can plead that it was too severe. He cannot appeal against being found guilty because, of course, he has admitted the offence. If he pleaded not guilty at the magistrates' court he can appeal against conviction and/or sentence.
Secondly, if he considers the magistrates decision was wrong because the court misinterpreted the law, then he may apply in writing to the clerk of the magistrates' court to "state a case" for the opinion of the High Court on the question of law involved. Three judges then hear the evidence and make a decision on this point of law. This decision is then referred to as a "stated case" and it is binding on all inferior courts in tha future. In this way, new law is made or perhaps it would be better to say the old law is clarified. The case is reported and is then referred to in law books by the names of the prosecutor and the defendant and where the report can be found.
For example, Mawdsley v Walter Cox (Transport) Ltd (1966) 3 All E.R. 728, means that Mawdsley (probably a police officer) was the appellant and the firm of Walter Cox was the defendant. 1966 is the year of the appeal and the report on the case can be found in All England Law Reports for that year on page 728. The prosecutor and the defendant both have the right of appeal by way of case stated. During the next few weeks, I hope to look at some of the stated eases which are of particular interest to the commercial vehicle driver and operator.
The case I have already mentioned, Mawdsley v Walter Cox (Transport) Ltd is a particularly interesting one. The Construction and Use Regulations requires goods vehicles to be fitted with two mirrors to enable their drivers to get a view to the rear. In this case, a lorry owned by Walter Cox had these two mirrors properly fitted. The lorry was carrying a large, fibre glass swimming pool, the lateral projections of which obscured the vision of the driver to the rear via the mirrors. The basis of the prosecution's case was that although the mirrors were fitted they were ineffectual. The magistrates dismissed the charge and the police appealed by way of case stated.
It was held that the justices were right and that, in these cases, the courts must consider the vehicle in its normal state. It was held that the regulation is concerned with the permanent equipment with which a motor vehicle must be furnished when used on a road. If the regulation is satisfied, no offence is committed merely because an exceptional load obscures the effect of the mirrors.
Garner v Burr and Others (1950) 2 All E.R. 683 is another case which illustrates the •importance of case law. An empty poultry shed, which had no brakes or braking system, and which was fitted with iron wheels, was being pulled along a public road by a tractor. If the shed was a trailer, within the meaning of the law, several offences were being committed. The justices were of the opinion that the shed was not a vehicle. They were further of the opinion that even if the shed was a vehicle, it was a land implement and was therefore excluded from the requirements of the regulations.
It was held that the decision of the justices was wrong be-. cause, for the purpose of the Road Traffic Acts, 'anything on wheels which was drawn by a motor vehicle was a "trailer." The shed was not a land implement and was not excluded from the requirements of the regulations. H a shed of this kind, az anything else on wheels, has to be moved over public roads, then obviously it is necessary to load it on to a vehicle rather than to tow it to its destination. More stated cases next week.