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Gary slapper. The cases that changed britain. Part V: 1972-2006

1. Dpp V Ray July 27, 1973

This case settled an important principle of law applicable to people caught legging it out of restaurants without paying. It has been applied countless times since. After eating a meal in the Wing Wah restaurant in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, Roger Ray, a university student, and his three companions decided not to pay. About 10 minutes later, after waiting for the waiter to leave the dining room, they made off. Ray was convicted under the Theft Act (now covered by the Fraud Act 2006) and the conviction was upheld by the House of Lords. The law lords ruled that Ray had impliedly stated in ordering the meal that he intended to pay, and that by remaining in his seat after deciding not to pay had ostensibly continued that earlier implied statement, thereby deceiving the waiter.

2. Haughton V Smith November 22, 1973

What happens if someone is attempting to commit a crime that is legally impossible? Is it a criminal attempt? The House of Lords gave the answer in this cops and crooks caper. Police officers stopped a large van on the motorway travelling south from Liverpool and found it contained stolen goods. The police decided to allow the men to continue their journey along the motorway to a service area in order to catch the receivers. One of those waiting, Roger Smith, was later convicted of attempting to handle stolen goods, even though the Crown conceded that at the time of the alleged offence the goods, being in the lawful custody of the police, ceased to be stolen. But the decision was overturned by the House of Lords, which said there could be no conviction in such circumstances. In order to constitute the offence of attempting to handle stolen goods, the goods in question must be stolen. These goods were not because they were in the lawful possession of the police. It is not a crime to try to commit a crime that, in the circumstances, it is impossible to commit.

3. R V Kovacs December 22, 1973

This influential criminal law case concerned what happens when someone gets an advantage from one person by having deceived another. Stephanie Kovacs knew that her bank account was overdrawn and that she no longer had authority from her bank to have possession or use of her cheque book or her cheque guarantee card. Nevertheless, she wrote a cheque to pay for a railway ticket costing £2.89. Her bank was bound, because of the cheque guarantee card, to honour the cheque, but Kovacs was convicted of dishonestly obtaining a pecuniary advantage (an increased overdraft) by deception. Her appeal was dismissed. The court held immaterial that the person deceived – the railway clerk – was not the person from whom the pecuniary advantage was obtained by the deception.

4. Jackson V Horizon Holidays Ltd February 6, 1974

The sorts of compensation aggrieved holiday makers can claim when things go wrong was one of the key points decided in this case. A family holiday to Sri Lanka was not all it was cracked up to be. Julian Jackson, the father of the family, sued the tour operator and won an award of £1,100 damages for distress and inconvenience. The tour operator appealed. Several legal points were in issue. The court decided that damages for loss of a holiday may include not only the difference in value between what was promised and what was obtained but also damages for mental distress, inconvenience, upset, disappointment and frustration. It stated that where a person had entered into a contract on behalf of himself and others who were not parties to the contract, he could sue on the contract for damages or loss suffered not only by himself but also by the others in consequence of breach of the contract.

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