Attorney General v Corbiere Pavilion Hotel Ltd and Hall

CourtRoyal Court
Judge(Ereaut, Bailiff and Jurats Coutanche and Vint):
Judgment Date17 August 1982
Date17 August 1982
(Ereaut, Bailiff and Jurats Coutanche and Vint):

F.J. Benest for the appellants;

H. M. Attorney General for the prosecution.

Intoxicating Liquor—minors—allowing consumption by person under 18—omission of "knowingly" from Licensing (Jersey) Law 1974, art. 13(1) creates offence of strict liability, subject only to limited defence under art. 13(9) of reasonable lack of knowledge of age, burden of proof of which lies on accused

Statutes—interpretation—criminal and penal statutes—ambiguity to be resolved in favour of accused

Statutes—interpretation—ordinary meaning to be followed—unreasonable or absurd result to be avoided if some other interpretation available

Statutes—interpretation—reference to other statutes—variation between present statute and that previously in force may indicate intention of legislature to make significant change

Statutes—interpretation—statute to be considered as a whole—improper to try to construe word in isolation but must look at all relevant provisions of statute

EREAUT, BAILIFF: The Corbiere Pavilion Hotel Limited is the holder of a licence of the Third and Seventh categories issued under the Licensing (Jersey) Law, 1974 (as amended) (hereinafter called "the Law of 1974") in respect of the Corbiere Pavilion Hotel. Mr. Stephen Hall is the registered Manager of the said hotel.

On 18th March, 1982, the Company and Mr. Hall were convicted by the Assistant Magistrate at the Police Court of an infraction of Article 13(1) of the Law of 1974 by "permitting" persons under the age of 18 years to consume intoxicating liquor on licensed premises.

The appellants are aggrieved by their conviction as being wrong in law and now appeal to this Court by case stated.

The provisions of the Law of 1974 which relate to the conviction are in the following terms—



(1) . . . the holder of the licence shall not in licensed premises sell intoxicating liquor to a person under the age of eighteen years or allow a person under that age to consume intoxicating liquor on the licensed premises.

. . .

(9) In any proceedings for an offence under this Article, it shall be a good defence for the defendant to prove that he did not know, and could not with reasonable enquiry have ascertained that the person was under the age of eighteen years."

As we have said, the appellants were charged with, and convicted of, an infraction of the second part of Article 13(1), that is to say, that they "permitted" persons under the age of eighteen years to consume intoxicating liquor on the licensed premises. Although the word used in Article 13(1) is "allow", and not "permit" as was used in the charge against the appellants, no significance attaches to this because in the context of this case, the two words have the same meaning.

It was not in dispute that on the evening of 2nd January, 1982, two girls aged 15 and 17 years respectively consumed intoxicating liquor in the discotheque at the Corbiere Pavilion Hotel. They did not approach the bar, but the liquor was bought for them by a member of their group who was over eighteen years. The discotheque is not well lit, and therefore to overcome the difficulty of preventing the consumption of liquor by persons under eighteen years the appellants, very sensibly, exercise control by barring entry at the entrance to the premises to anyone who appears to them to be under that age. For that purpose there is a system whereby the Manager, assisted usually by three...

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