Le Monnier v Attorney General

CourtRoyal Court
JudgeHamon, Commissioner:
Judgment Date26 April 1989
Date26 April 1989
Hamon, Commissioner:

A.P. Begg for the appellant;

J.A. Clyde-Smith for the Crown.

Cases cited:

(1) Att. Gen. v. Clark, 1987-88 JLR 448, distinguished.

(2) New Guar. Trust Fin. Ltd. v. Birbeck, 1980 J.J. 117; further proceedings, 1980 J.J. 183; on appeal, sub nom. Birbeck v. Midland Bank Ltd., 1981 J.J. 121, considered.

(3) Nicholson v. Brown, [1974] RTR 177; [1974] Crim. L.R. 187; (1974), 118 Sol. Jo. 259, considered.

(4) R. v. Steel (1968), 52 Cr. App. R. 510, considered.

(5) Ruban v. Att. Gen., 1987-88 JLR 204, considered.

(6) Smith v. Henderson, 1950 S.C. (J.) 48; 105 S.L.T. 182.

(7) Whittall v. Kirby, [1947] K.B. 194; [1946] 2 All E.R. 552; [1947] L.J.R. 234; (1946), 175 L.T. 449; 62 T.L.R. 696; 45 L.G.R. 8; 90 Sol. Jo. 571, followed.

Additional cases cited by counsel:

Att. Gen. v. Ernest Augustus of Hanover (Prince), [1957] A.C. 436.

Att. Gen. v. Ferey, 1968 J.J. 975.

Att. Gen. v. Holley, Royal Ct., February 17th, 1977, unreported.

Buckingham 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, [1939] N.I. 106.

R. v. Wickins (1958), 42 Cr. App. R. 236.

Reichs v. Ministry of Transport, [1979] 1 All E.R. 636.

St. Helier (Constable) v. Baal, 1965 J.J. 503.

Legislation construed:

Road Traffic (Jersey) Law, 1956, as amended: art. 14(5): The relevant terms of this article are set out at page 174, lines 31-43.

art. 16(2): The relevant terms of this article are set out at page 173, lines 6-12.

Texts cited:

Bennion, Statutory Interpretation, at xxvii, 78, 554 (1984).

Cross on Statutory Interpretation, at 100 (1976).

Wilkinson's Road Traffic Offences, 12th ed., vol. 1, at 762, 763 (1985).

Road Trafficdriving under influence of drinksentencedisqualification"special reasons"mitigating circumstance peculiar to offender and not offence not "special reason" under Road Traffic (Jersey) Law, 1956, art. 16(2), as amended16-year time-lapse since previous conviction may be "special reason" justifying departure from mandatory disqualification

The appellant was charged in the Police Court with driving whilst impaired, contrary to the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law, 1956, art. 16(1).

He pleaded guilty, was convicted, was fined 100 and ordered to pay costs, and was disqualified from driving for 3 years under art. 16(2). Some 16 years before, he had been convicted on a similar charge. The magistrate rejected his submission that the length of time since that previous conviction constituted a "special reason" for not imposing the three-year disqualification. On appeal, the magistrate stated a case to the effect that he could not escape the mandatory imposition of a three-year disqualification under art. 16(2) because a long period of time since a previous conviction could only constitute a "special reason" for not disqualifying if it were specifically stated to be so. Although lapse of time of three years was stated to be a "special reason" in respect of a conviction under art. 14, there was no such provision in art. 16. The appellant submitted that, since in art. 14(5) a lapse of three or more years since a previous conviction had to be read as ejusdem generis with the following words "any other special reason," giving the words a uniform meaning throughout the statute meant that a lapse of time also constituted a "special reason" under art. 16(2).

The Crown submitted in reply, inter alia, that since it was clearly established law that a mitigating circumstance peculiar to the appellant rather than to the offence could not constitute a "special reason," the lapse of time since the appellant's previous conviction could not amount to a special reason.

Held, allowing the appeal:

The presumption that the legislature intended words to have the same meaning throughout an enactment applied to the words "special reasons" in the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law, 1956, as amended. Although the presumption was easy to rebut, it was clear that, giving the words their ordinary meaning, this had been the legislature's intent here. In art. 14(5), a time-lapse of three or more years was clearly stated to be an "other" form of "special reason" itselfthough it could not be read as being ejusdem generis with the words "special reason"and the legislature had not changed the implications of this phrasing through several amendments. Thus, although the court was not prepared in principle to depart from the established rule that a mitigating circumstance which was peculiar to the offender and not the offence could not constitute a "special reason" for not imposing the mandatory disqualification, it was prepared to accept that a lapse of time since a previous conviction as exceptionally long as the 16-year period in this case had been intended to constitute such a "special reason" under art. 16(2). The appellant's appeal would therefore be allowed and the matter would be remitted to the magistrate with a direction that a "special reason" was present in this case (page 179, lines 36-39; page 180, lines 23-30; page 181, lines 24-28; page 182, line 45 - page 183, line 13; page 183, lines 19-32).

HAMON, COMMR.: This is an appeal by way of case stated from a decision of the Magistrate, Mr. T.A. Dorey, made on January 11th, 1989.

The facts of the case can be stated briefly. On December 3rd, 1988, at about 11.22 p.m., the appellant was seen by two honorary police officers who were in a patrol car. The appellant was driving and, in reversing his car, was seen to knock over a bollard. The officers suspected that the appellant had been drinking and their suspicions were confirmed. It appears from the police report that the appellant's eyes were glazed and bloodshot, his breath smelt of intoxicants and his speech was slurred.

The appellant lives in Clearview Street, St. Helier, and on the evening in question he had driven from St. Helier to a public house at St.

Brelade where he had drunk beer before returning home. The police doctor was called. He carried out an examination and certified that in his opinion "the accused was unfit to drive a motor vehicle through alcohol." Blood and urine samples were taken and were found, on analysis by the official analyst, to contain 116 mg. of alcohol in 100 ml. of blood and 159 mg. of alcohol in 100 ml. of urine. The appellant weighed 11 st. The urine sample was taken at 11.53 p.m. and the blood sample at 12.14 a.m. (i.e. a few minutes into December 4th).

The appellant pleaded guilty. The Magistrate regarded the offence as being at "the very low end of the scale." He sentenced the appellant to a fine of 100 or 3 weeks' imprisonment, 52 costs and disqualified him from driving for 3 years with an indication that he would consider an application to remove the disqualification after 15 months. His appeal is made today on one narrow point concerning the interpretation of the words "special reasons."

In disqualifying the appellant for three years, the Magistrate had regard to art. 16(2) of the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law, 1956 which reads as follows:

"A person convicted of a motoring offence under this Article shall, unless the court for special reasons thinks fit to order otherwise and without prejudice to the power of the court to order a longer period of disqualification, in the case of a first offence, be disqualified for a period of twelve months and in the case of a second or subsequent offence, for a period of three years, for holding or obtaining a licence."

The appellant had a previous conviction of driving a motor vehicle whilst unfit through drink or drugs on February 14th, 1972, i.e some 16 years previously.

The Magistrate stated his case as follows:

"When I sentenced Mr. Denis George Le Monnier on January 11th, 1989 for a second offence under art. 16 of the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law, 1956, I held that the length of time between a first and second conviction (in this case 16 years) could not be a special reason for not imposing a disqualification...

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