Category Archives: United Kingdom

Statute of Frauds 1677 | 16 April 1677

ON THIS DAY in 1677, the English Parliament enacted the Statute of Frauds 1677.

This Act required certain dealings with real property, sale of goods, estates, trusts and marriage be reduced to writing and signed in order to avoid fraud or perjury.

The provisions of the Act have since been incorporated into many pieces of legislation around the common law world.

 

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Anton Piller KG v Manufacturing Processes Ltd [1975] EWCA Civ 12 | 8 December 1975

ON 8 DECEMBER 1975, the England and Wales Court of Appeal delivered Anton Piller KG v Manufacturing Processes Ltd & Ors [1975] EWCA Civ 12 (08 December 1975).

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/1975/12.html

The Court of Appeal held that it had inherent jurisdiction to order defendants in most exceptional circumstances to “permit” the plaintiffs’ lawyers to enter the defendants’ premises to inspect and remove material. Such circumstances are (1) when the plaintiffs have a strong prima facie case of very serious actual or potential damage and (2) clear evidence of the defendants being in the possession of “vital material which they might destroy or dispose of to defeat the ends of justice before an application inter partes may be made”.

The Court of Appeal held that in very exceptional circumstances such an application may be made ex parte (in the absence of the defendants).

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Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company [1892] EWCA Civ 1 | 7 December 1892

ON 7 DECEMBER 1892, the England and Wales Court of Appeal delivered Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company [1892] EWCA Civ 1; [1893] 1 QB 256.

Carbolic Smoke Ball Company was the manufacturer of the Carbolic Smoke Ball which they claimed could prevent “influenza, colds, or any disease caused by taking cold…”.

Carbolic promoted the product with the following advertisement:

“100 pounds reward will be paid by the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company to any person who contracts the increasing epidemic influenza, colds, or any disease caused by taking cold, after having used the ball three times daily for two weeks according to the printed directions supplied with each ball. 1,000 pounds is deposited with the Alliance Bank, Regent Street, showing our sincerity in the matter”.

On the strength of the advertisement, Carlill purchased the smoke ball, used it as directed but nevertheless caught the flue. She claimed the 100 pounds which Carlill refused to pay on the basis that there was no binding contract because the advertisement was a “mere puff” that meant nothing.

The Court of Appeal held that there was a binding contract.

Per Lindley LJ ((1893) 1 Q.B. 256, at p. 262): “…the person who makes the offer shows by his language and from the nature of the transaction that he does not expect and does not require notice of the acceptance, apart from notice of the performance.”

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Thomas Bonham v College of Physicians (“Dr Bonham’s case”) 8 Co Rep 107a; 77 Eng Rep 638 | 1 December 1610

ON 1 DECEMBER 1610, the Chief Justice of the English Court of Common Pleas, Sir Edward Coke, delivered Thomas Bonham v College of Physicians 8 Co Rep 107a; 77 Eng Rep 638.

Dr Bonham had been fined and imprisoned by the Royal College of Physicians for continuing to practise as a Physician in London. He brought a case for false imprisonment.

Coke CJ held that Charter granted by the Parliament to the College of Surgeons was invalid due to bias.

Coke CJ at 118a ruled:

“The censors cannot be judges, ministers, and parties; judges to give
sentence or judgment; ministers to make summons; and parties to have the
moiety of the forfeiture…”

Coke CJ at 118a said:

“It appears in our books that in many cases the common law will control acts of Parliament and sometimes adjudge them to be utterly void; for when an Act of Parliament is against common right and reason, or repugnant, or impossible to be performed, the common law will control it and adjudge such an act to be void.”

The case establishes the rule against bias as a constitutional limit on the exercise of parliament’s legislative powers. In short, (1) a person may not be a judge in their own case and (2) an Act of Parliament is invalid if it conflicts with a basic principle of the common law (such as that a person may not be a judge in their own case).

 

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Guildford Four released | 19 October 1989

ON 19 OCTOBER 1989, the Guildford Four were released from prison after their conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/19/newsid_2490000/2490039.stm

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Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (UK) | 28 August 1833

ON 28 AUGUST 1833, the UK Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Will4/3-4/73/contents

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Lord Campbell’s Act (UK) | 26 August 1846

ON 26 AUGUST 1846, the UK Parliament passed the Fatal Accidents Act 1846, also known as Lord Campbell’s Act.

Close relatives of a person killed by the wrongdoing of another were entitled by this Act to recover damages that the common law did not previously allow. The provision has been legislated in common law jurisdictions around the world. The Compensation to Relatives Act 1897 (NSW) introduced similar provisions in New South Wales.

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