JERSEY MAINCROP POTATO MARKETING BOARD v DE GRUCHY and STATES COMMITTEE of AGRICULTURE [Royal Ct]

JurisdictionJersey
CourtRoyal Court
Judge(Ereaut, Deputy Bailiff and Jurats Pallot and Downer):
Judgment Date23 August 1971
Date23 August 1971
ROYAL COURT
(Ereaut, Deputy Bailiff and Jurats Pallot and Downer):

F.C. Hamon for the Board;

The defendant appeared in person;

V.A. Tomes,Solicitor General, for the Committee.

Agriculturemarketing schemespotatoesoffencesseparate offences to be charged separately and offender given opportunity to be heardsingle comprehensive charge lacking in detail of separate offences not adequate

Agriculturemarketing schemespotatoespenaltiesmaximum penalty permissible if ignores scheme and sells without allocationthereby avoids levy due upon allocation, sells in excess of authorized price, and avoids storage charge while awaiting allocation

Statutesinterpretationordinary meaning to be followedclear words to be given ordinary meaninglegislative intention to be ascertained from actual words of statutenot entitled to consider draft Act of Committee of States to ascertain legislative intention

Statutesinterpretationtechnical legislationwords and phrases in technical legislation given their technical meaning if they have one and otherwise their ordinary meaningcourt entitled to take evidence from local technical experts as to accepted understanding of local technical terms

EREAUT, DEPUTY BAILIFF:Mr. D. J. de Gruchy (hereinafter called "the Complainant") is a registered producer under the Maincrop Potato Marketing Scheme, 1968 (hereinafter called "the Scheme"), which was approved by the States by their Maincrop Potato Marketing Scheme (Approval) (Jersey) Act, 1968.

Paragraph 2(1) of the Scheme provides, inter alia

"In this Scheme, unless the context otherwise requires, the following expressions shall have the meanings hereby respectively assigned to them, that is to say:

. . .

'potatoes' means harvested maincrop potatoes grown in Jersey and not being of a class or description for the time being exempt by virtue of paragraph 30(c) of this Scheme'".

On 16th November, 1970, the Jersey Maincrop Potato Marketing Board (hereinafter called "the Board"), constituted to administer the Scheme and acting in pursuance of paragraph 41 thereof, by resolution imposed on the Complainant a monetary penalty in respect of an alleged contravention by him of the provisions of that paragraph, in that he had failed without reasonable excuse to furnish to the Board on demand certain invoice books relating to his sales of maincrop potatoes during the period 3rd October, 1969, to 3rd October, 1970, (hereinafter called "the relevant period").

On 22nd December, 1970, the Board, acting in pursuance of paragraph 35 of the Scheme, by resolution imposed on the Complainant a monetary penalty in respect of an alleged contravention by him of certain requirements made by the Board under paragraph 32(1), in that he had during the relevant period sold eleven tons of maincrop potatoes "without the authority of the Board".

It was agreed on behalf of the Board that the "maincrop potatoes" to which the latter resolution related were the two varieties Ulster Dale and Dunbar.

By letter dated 16th February, 1971, the Complainant required the Board to refer both resolutions to the Inferior Number of the Royal Court in accordance with paragraph 43(7) of the Scheme.

In the course of the hearing before this Court on 12th May, 1971, the Complainant admitted in evidence that he had, without the authority of the Board, sold in the Island during the relevant period quantities of two varieties of potatoes, that is to say, Ulster Dale and Dunbar, which had been grown in Jersey. He did not claim that those sales were exempt under paragraph 30 of the Scheme, nor that the potatoes which he had sold had not been harvested at the time of sale, nor that they had not been grown in Jersey; but he submitted, inter alia, that the Ulster Dale variety did not fall within the definition of "potatoes" in the Scheme, inasmuch as it was not a "maincrop potato". He made no similar submission in respect of the variety Dunbar.

The Board argued that, although the term "maincrop potatoes" as used in paragraph 2(1) of the Scheme was not defined, the Committee of Agriculture (hereinafter called "the Committee") was empowered under the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing (Jersey) Law, 1953 (as amended) (hereinafter called "the Law"), under which the Scheme was made, to prohibit the export of any specific variety of potato, that the Committee had, by administrative act, defined "maincrop potatoes" as meaning all varieties of potatoes except those permitted for the time being to be exported, that during the relevant period Ulster Dale was not a variety which was permitted to be exported, and that, therefore, Ulster Dale was, during the relevant period, a variety of potato which was included in the term "maincrop potatoes" as used in the Scheme.

The Court decided that because it was dealing with the matter of monetary penalties imposed by the Board on the Complainant for alleged contraventions of the provisions of the Scheme, the first question about which it had to be satisfied was whether either or both of the two varieties Ulster Dale and Dunbar were, during the relevant period, included in the definition of "potatoes" in paragraph 2(1) of the Scheme, that is to say, whether they were "maincrop potatoes".

Accordingly, by an interim judgment delivered on 28th June, 1971, the Court desired the parties to adduce evidence and to address the Court on the two following matters

1. Under what statutory authority could it be claimed that either the Committee or the Board (or both) was empowered to determine, for the purposes of the Scheme, what varieties of potato should, and what should not, be included within the term "maincrop potatoes", and, in particular, to define the term "maincrop potatoes" as meaning, for the purposes of the Scheme, all potatoes grown in the Island which were for the time being not permitted to be exported; and, if such authority could be shown, in what manner was that power exercised in relation to the varieties Ulster Dale and Dunbar as regards the relevant period

2. Assuming that no such statutory authority existed, how should the term "maincrop potatoes" as used in the Scheme be interpreted, and how should that interpretation be applied in relation to each of the varieties Ulster Dale and Dunbar

The Court further directed that the Committee be given the opportunity to be represented at the further hearing and to call evidence and to address the Court on the above two matters, an opportunity of which the Committee availed itself.

At the further hearing, held on 14th and 19th July, 1971, it was conceded on the part both of the Committee and of the Board, firstly, that the term "maincrop potatoes" as used in the Scheme was not defined, and secondly, that there was no express statutory authority conferred on either body to define that term for the purposes of the Scheme; and therefore that the term was one for judicial interpretation.

It was agreed that the Scheme applied only to "maincrop potatoes", and, therefore, that the Scheme did not apply to any specific variety of potato unless it could be shown that that variety properly came within that term. Accordingly, the duty of this Court is, firstly, to interpret the term "maincrop potatoes" as used in the Scheme, and secondly, to apply that interpretation in relation to each of the varieties Ulster Dale and Dunbar.

The Committee and the Board asked us to find that the term as used in the Scheme meant all varieties of potatoes grown in Jersey except those permitted for the time being to be exported, and accordingly, that because during the relevant period Ulster Dale and Dunbar were varieties which were not permitted to be exported the term applied to them during that period.

The Complainant asked us to find that the term as used in the Scheme related only to varieties of potatoes which by reason of their maturity and keeping characteristics were acceptable for local consumption during the winter period, that Ulster Dale did not have those characteristics, and, accordingly, that the term, and therefore the Scheme, did not apply to that variety. The Complainant conceded that on his interpretation of the term the Scheme did apply to the variety Dunbar.

For our purpose, the Scheme is a statute. A statute has been defined as "the will of the legislature".

Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes, 12th ed, at 1 (1969) states

"Granted that a document which is presented to it as a statute is an authentic expression of the legislative will, the function of a Court is to interpret that document 'according to the intent of them that made it'. From that function the Court may not resile: however ambiguous or difficult of application the words of an Act of Parliament may be, the Court is bound to endeavour to place some meaning upon them. In so doing it gives effect, as the judges have repeatedly declared, to the intention of Parliament, but it may only elicit that intention from the actual words of the statute . . . If language is clear and explicit, the Court must give effect to it, 'for in that case the words of the statute speak the intention of the legislature'. And in so doing it must bear in mind that its function is 'jus dicere' not 'jus dare'; the words of a statute must not be overruled by the judges, but reform of the law must be left in the hands of Parliament".

Maxwell further states, at 28

"The first and most elementary rule of construction is that it is to be assumed that the words and phrases of technical legislation are used in their technical meaning if they have acquired one, and otherwise in their ordinary meaning".

We are in no doubt that the Scheme can properly be described as technical legislation. It is one of a number of Schemes which have been made under the Law, of which the long title is in the following terms

"A Law to provide for the control of the marketing of agricultural produce, to empower the States to approve schemes for this purpose and to provide for other matters incidental...

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5 cases
  • Le Monnier v Attorney General
    • Jersey
    • Royal Court
    • 26 April 1989
    ...v. St. Helier (Constable), 1966 J.J. 679. Eddis v. Chichester Constable, [1969] 2 Ch. 345. Jersey Maincrop Potato Mktg. Bd. v. de Gruchy, 1971 J.J. 1819. Langlois, In re, 1985-86 JLR 388. Overseas Ins. Brokers Ltd., Re, 1966 J.J. 325. R. v. Anderson, [1970] Crim. L.R. 245. R. v. Crossan, [1......
  • Ostroumoff (Née Martland)
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    ...v. Constable of St. Helier, 1966 J.J. 679. (6) Hanley, In re, 1993 JLR N-2, followed. (7) Jersey Maincrop Potato Mktg. Bd. v. de Gruchy, 1971 J.J. 1819. (8) Macready v. Amy, 1950 J.J. 11. (9) New Guar. Trust Fin. Ltd. v. Birbeck, 1980 J.J. 117. (10) Overseas Ins. Brokers Ltd., Re, 1963 J.J.......
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    ...v. Laisney, 1977 J.J. 19. (5) Harden v. Harden (1918), 12 C.R. 136, unreported. (6) Jersey Maincrop Potato Mktg. Bd. v. de Gruchy, 1971 J.J. 1819. (7) Macready v. Amy, 1950 J.J. 11. (8) New Guar. Trust Fin. Ltd. v. Birbeck, 1977 J.J. 71; further proceedings, sub nom. Birbeck, In re, 1979 J.......
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