Source: All England Reporter
Publisher Citation: [2001] All ER (D) 178 (Feb)
Court: Divisional Court

Latham LJ and Potts J

Representation Pete Weatherby (instructed by Linn & Associates, Harwich) for the claimant.
  Jonathan Ashley-Norman (instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service, Chelmsford) for the defendant.
Judgment Dates: 15 February 2001


Magistrates - Jurisdiction - Mode of trial - Criminal damage to genetically-modified crops - Offence triable either way - Offence to be tried summarily if value involved small - Justices accepting evidence of value of crop itself - Justices accepting jurisdiction - Whether justices should have taken into account consequential losses in determining value - Whether Justices' decision perverse in the circumstances - Magistrates' Court Act 1980, ss 22(1)||(4) and Sch 2.

The Case

Pursuant to Sch 2 to the Magistrates' Court Act 1980 the correct measure of the value of damage caused was the value of the property in the open market at the material time. Accordingly, in the instant case, when deciding whether the defendant could elect for trial by jury under s 22 of that Act, following damage to genetically-modified crop, it was the value of that crop and not the consequential losses incurred by government in respect of genetic-modification trial that were to be taken into consideration. It followed that the justices had been entitled to take the view that D's evidence was sufficient to justify the conclusion that the value involved did not exceed the relevant sum. Accordingly, the decision of the justices to accept jurisdiction could not be characterised as perverse.

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