CASE BOOK judgments

R v Sec of State for Trade and Industry on the application of (1) One 2 One Personal Communications Ltd, (2) One 2 One Personal Communications and (3) BT3G Limited (January 2001) HC

Judge: Silber J

Richard Fowler QC of Monckton Chambers, Jonathan Crow of 4 Stone Buildings and Clive Lewis of 11 King's Bench Walk instructed by the treasury solicitor for the respondent. David Vaughan QC and Mark Brealey, both of Brick Court Chambers, instructed by Simmons & Simmons for the first and second applicant.

Richard Gordon QC, Alan Maclean and Kelyn Bacon, all of Brick Court Chambers, instructed by Ashurst Morris Crisp for BT3G. Nicholas Green QC and Andrew Henshaw, both of Brick Court Chambers, instructed by Linklaters & Alliance for Vodafone, an interested party.

Both BT and One 2 One failed in their attempt to persuade the High Court that they were unfairly treated in the UK 3G auction. Both companies complained because they were expected to pay up earlier than their rivals for the licences, which both won successfully during the UK auction. They claimed that rivals Vodafone and Orange benefited unfairly from a deferred payment of their own successful bids. Both BT and One 2 One have been granted a right to appeal.

Bruce Grobbelaar v News Group Newspapers Ltd & anor (18 January 2001) CA

Judges: Brown LJ, Thorpe LJ, Parker LJ

Richard Hartley QC and Sarah Palin of specialist libel set 1 Brick Court instructed by Cuff Roberts for the respondent. Richard Spearman QC of 4-5 Gray's Inn Square instructed by and for Daniel Taylor, company solicitor for News Group Newspapers, the appellant.

Sensational libel verdict where a jury's decision to award Grobbelaar £85,000 in damages for defamation was overturned as perverse by the Court of Appeal. The Sun newspaper appealed an earlier decision from Gray J and a unanimous jury on 28 July 1999 awarding the former Liverpool FC goalkeeper £85,000 compensatory damages for defamation. The award was in respect of a series of publications stating that he had fixed football matches for money. The appellants argued: (i) the jury's verdict, notably its rejection of the defence of justification, was perverse; and (ii) Gray J was wrong to have ruled in the course of the trial that the defence of qualified privilege was not available in respect of the publications complained of. The judge's ruling came after the Court of Appeal decision but before the House of Lords decision in Reynolds v Times.

Martin John Davies v Hillier Nurseries Ltd (29 January 2001) DC

Judges: Woolf LCJ, Newman J

Stephen Hockman QC of 6 Pump Court and Sailash Mehta of Verulam Chambers instructed by the Environment Agency for the claimant. Andrew Spink of 35 Essex Street instructed by Blake Lapthorn for the respondent.

The issue was whether the respondent, a nursery growing plants in plastic pots expected to be discarded by the customer after sale, had failed to fulfil the obligations imposed on a producer under the Producer Responsibility Obligations to recover and recycle the packaging waste. The nursery argued that the flower pots were not "packaging" and the stipendiary magistrate agreed, conceding that the primary principle of a flower pot was for the growing of the plant. The issue on appeal was whether the pot was "used as packaging conceived as to constitute a sales unit".

It was held that when the plant was put in the pot it was intended that the pot should be part of the sales unit and that the plant should be sold when it reached a sufficient growth. The pots, therefore, were packaging, and the respondant acted as a producer and should have been found guilty.

An appeal was allowed and the case was readmitted to the stipendiary magistrate with a direction to convict.