Edwin Buckett successfully resists PACE appeal challenge in the High Court



In a reserved judgment handed down on the 26th April 2019, Mr Justice Murray dismissed the Claimant’s appeal in the lengthy on-going case of Westminster College of Computing v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2019] EWHC 1036 (QB).

The Claimant sought to challenge the decision of the Master who struck out the Claimant’s claim for breaches of Sections 16(6) and 16(7) of PACE, which were alleged to have occurred when a search warrant was executed at commercial premises by police. The Claimant argued that the Master was wrong to strike the allegations out on the basis that Bhatti v Croydon Magistrates’ Court [2011] 1 WLR 948 required strict compliance by police with the requirements of Sections 15 and 16 during warrant searches and that failure to comply would render the search unlawful.

The police argued that not only did the Claimant fail to provide sufficient evidence which could contradict the police account that such breaches did not occur, but also that the “Lumba” principle applied. This stemmed from the recent Court of Appeal decision in Parker v Chief Constable of Essex [2018] EWCA Civ 2788, in which the Lumba principle was considered to apply to a false imprisonment claim resulting from an unlawful arrest, resulting in nominal damages, in circumstances where had the police acted lawfully at the time, there would have been grounds to arrest.

Mr Justice Murray rejected the Claimants appeal on the sufficiency of evidence ground alone. In doing so he decided that it was not necessary to decide whether the Lumba principle could apply to breaches of Sections 15 and 16 of PACE although he stated that this was an attractive argument.

The point will need to be determined at some point in the future as the tension between Bhatti and Parker, insofar as it applies to warrant cases, has to be resolved.

Edwin was instructed by Matt Smith of Plexus Law (Manchester).

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Edwin Buckett

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