Syvret v AG

JurisdictionJersey
CourtRoyal Court
JudgeSir Christopher Pitchers,(Pitchers, Commr.)
Judgment Date26 January 2012
Neutral Citation[2011] JRC 115B,[2012] JRC 22
Date26 January 2012

[2011] JRC 115B

ROYAL COURT

(Samedi Division)

Before:

Sir Christopher Pitchers, Commissioner, sitting alone.

Between
Stuart Syvret
Applicant
and
Her Majesty's Attorney General
First Respondent
Connetable of Grouville
Second Respondent
APPLICATION FOR COMMISSIONER TO RECUSE HIMSELF

Stuart Syvret appeared in person.

Advocate S. M. Baker for the Respondents.

No Authorities

THE COMMISSIONER:

1

In a recent hearing, Commissioner Sumption, hearing a civil action by Mr Syvret, set out his acquaintance with, and contact with various members of the legal establishment in Jersey. Although I think there is a strong argument in principle for not answering individual litigant's questions of this sort, I do not want Mr Syvret to think that I am going to put myself in any different position from Commissioner Sumption, so for that reason I am prepared to answer the questions that Commissioner Sumption has answered.

2

I have done my best to recollect accurately what contact I have had, but of course I have only been doing this sitting in my retiring room for the last 10 minutes. I have been able, however, to check the dates of my appointment.

3

I was appointed by the then Bailiff, now Commissioner Philip Bailhache, on 20 th November, 2008, by which time I was a retired High Court Judge in England. I was sworn in by him on 8 th December 2008, which was the first time I had ever visited this Island.

4

My previous knowledge of the four people named by Mr Syvret is as follows:-

  • (i) The Bailiff, I came across on a few occasions in a professional capacity when he was practising at the English Bar in the 1970s. At short notice I cannot give the exact years, though no doubt it is a matter of public record when he was practising in England and Wales. After he returned to Jersey to practice law here I had no contact with him at all, either face to face or in any other capacity until I came here on my appointment as Commissioner.

  • (ii) The Deputy Bailiff and Commissioner Philip Bailhache, I had never met either of them before I came to the Island to be sworn in on 8 th December, 2008.

  • (iii) The present Attorney General, Mr Le Cocq, I think I must have been formally introduced to him at some stage, so far as I am aware I have never spoken to him at all.

5

Social contact with the above named. I have never been into the houses of any of them, the closest I have been was to be in a car that was picking up the present Bailiff for a formal dinner. I have never been entertained by any of them at their houses. I did attend a formal dinner, I cannot now remember whether all of the three judicial members of that group were there or not, for the retiring Bailiff of Guernsey when he ceased to be a member of the Court of Appeal of Jersey. I also on one occasion had dinner in a restaurant with the present Bailiff and Deputy Bailiff. I had no social contact with the Deputy Bailiff when he was Attorney General and I have had no social contact with the present Attorney General. Apart from that, as one would expect, since they are working in the same building as I have been working in, I have seen them informally in the Courts, that is to say the judicial members of that group, not the Attorney General, and on a few occasions have had lunch with one or other of them.

6

That is the extent of my acquaintance with and social contact with that group.

7

I decline to recuse myself from hearing this matter, it seems to me that acquaintance is so limited as to make it proper for me to adjudicate on these matters.

[2012] JRC 22

ROYAL COURT

(Samedi)

Before:

Sir Christopher Pitchers, Commissioner, sitting alone.

Stuart Syvret
and
The Attorney General

Stuart Syvret appeared in person.

Advocate S. M. Baker for the Attorney General.

Authorities

Syvret v AG and Connetable of Grouville [2011] JRC 168 .

Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2005.

Magistrate's Court (Miscellaneous Provisions)(Jersey) Law 1949.

Court of Appeal (Jersey) Law 1961.

Taylor v Lawrence [2003] QB 528 .

Interfact Ltd v Liverpool City Council [2010] 2 Cr. App. R. 29 .

Mayo Associates SA v Cantrade [1998] JLR 173 .

Jones v AG [2000] JLR 103 .

Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000.

Hume v AG [2006] JLR N 36 .

Knapp v AG [1991] JLR N 7 b.

Criminal Appeal Act 1995.

Application to stay the orders of the Royal Court dismissing his appeal against conviction and allowing him to re-open the appeal.

THE COMMISSIONER:

1

This is an application by Stuart Syvret (the applicant) to stay the orders of the Royal Court dismissing his appeal against conviction and permitting him to re-open the appeal and to call new evidence. From a legal point of view, the application is a novel one. I therefore reserved judgment after hearing the argument.

2

The factual background and the resolution of a number of legal issues have been set out in previous rulings and judgments that I have given in these proceedings and I do not repeat them here. See in particular the judgment of this court following the hearing of the appeal against conviction reported at [2011] JRC 168. An understanding of the present issues does, however, need me to set out a brief background to this application:-

  • (i) 17 November 2010: the applicant was convicted by the Assistant Magistrate of two offences contrary to sections 55 and 21 respectively of the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2005 and two motoring offences. He was also convicted of three offences of contempt of court, one involving his leaving the jurisdiction for six months in breach of his bail and failing to attend hearings of his case.

  • (ii) 30 August 2011: his appeal against conviction was dismissed save that the two convictions for contempt of court involving his behaviour at court were quashed. The appeal against sentence was allowed and the sentences varied.

  • (iii) Both in the Magistrate's Court and the Royal Court, he argued that the entire proceedings were vitiated by an abuse of process. In respect of the offence contrary to Art. 55, he invoked the public interest defence provided in that Article.

  • (iv) The Royal Court imposed a Community Service Order in respect of the failure to attend his trial. He did not complete any of the order, it was revoked and a sentence of 8 weeks substituted by the Magistrate. His appeal against that sentence was rejected by the Royal Court. This conviction and sentence are not dependent on the failure of his arguments about abuse of process and would be unaffected by any re-opening of his appeal.

  • (v) Since the dismissal of his appeal, two documents have come into the applicant's possession which he argues should now be admitted in a reconsideration of his appeal. Those documents are:-

    • (a) The statement of Mr Graham Power, former Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police made to the Wiltshire enquiry into the conduct of the investigation of events at Haut de la Garenne children's home.

    • (b) A witness statement made by a woman to whom I shall refer as Mrs A concerning her treatment in hospital in 1999.

3

I note finally as a preliminary matter that since the conclusion of the hearing, the applicant has submitted further written argument by way of a letter dated 29 November 2011. I would not normally be prepared to receive further argument after the conclusion of the hearing of an application. However, bearing in mind that the applicant is a litigant in person and had to prepare his case in prison, I have considered the matters set out in that letter. I have neither sought nor received any response from the respondent. Some of that letter seeks to re-open matters that were raised in the appeal for example the suggestion that the prosecution was an abuse of process because Advocate Baker had been involved in decision-making during the Haut de la Garenne enquiry (and indeed prosecuted those cases that came to court.) That was an argument that has always been without any merit and remains so. To the extent that the applicant's letter raises issues which are relevant to this application, I will deal with them in context.

4

I deal with one point as a preliminary matter. The applicant argues that in hearing this application I am in effect hearing an appeal from my own decision. This is simply not so. The essence of the application is that relevant material which was unknown to the previous court was not before it. By definition that does not contain any criticism of any conclusions of the previous court who can hardly have been expected to act on material of which they were unaware. This application was rightly made to me.

The issues.

5

This application raises three issues which need separate consideration:-

Is there jurisdiction?

  • (i) Is there jurisdiction in the Royal Court to re-open one of its decisions determining an appeal against conviction in the Magistrate's Court?

  • (ii) If there is such jurisdiction, what is the test to be applied where it is sought to re-open the appeal because of fresh evidence?

  • (iii) Does the evidence relied on in this application pass that test?

6

The Attorney-General as respondent to this application has conceded that there is jurisdiction. The matter has therefore not been argued on both sides. Although I have concluded that the concession was rightly made, this is new law so I set out my reasons for coming to that conclusion more fully than would normally be necessary where a point has been conceded in argument.

7

There is no doubt that there can be no further appeal from a decision of the Royal Court on appeal from the Magistrate's Court. The Magistrate's Court ( Miscellaneous Provisions)(Jersey) Law 1949 is clear:-

Miscellaneous provisions

Any appeal or application under this Part may be heard and determined by the Royal Court either in term or in vacation .

Any judgment or order of the Royal Court under this Part shall be final and conclusive, and shall...

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1 cases
  • Stuart Syvret v The Attorney General
    • Jersey
    • Court of Appeal
    • 30 January 2015
    ...-v- AG and Connetable of Grouville [2010] JRC 179. Syvret -v- Chief Minister [2011] JLR 343. Syvret -v- AG and Connetable of Grouville [2011] JRC 115B. Syvret -v- AG [2012] (2) JLR 94. Treasurer of the States -v- Syvret [2014] JRC 070. Treasurer of the States -v- Syvret [2014] JRC 149A. Syv......

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