||All England Reporter
|| All ER (D) 08 (Mar)
||Queen's Bench Division
||Patrick Moloney QC and David Sherbourne (instructed by Peter Carter Ruck) for the claimants.
||James Price QC and Rupert Elliott (instructed by Farrer & Co) for the defendants.
||1 March 2002
Elections - Local government - Ballot papers - Certain ballot papers uncounted after declaration of result - Informal count taking place - Returning officer applying for recount - Application adjourned - Defendants commenting on conduct of application - Libel action - Justification for comments - Proper procedure on application - Whether informal count lawful - Whether returning officer having locus standi to make application - Local Elections (Principal Areas) Rules 1986, r 47 of Sch 2.
In an action for libel in which issues of electoral law arose when considering whether allegations of incompetence against the legal team involved in making an application under r47 of Sch2 to the Local Elections (Principal Areas) Rules 1986 were justified, the court ruled that: (i) an informal count of uncounted ballot papers after the declaration of the result without supervision was not lawful; (ii) r47 did not apply to uncounted ballot papers; (iii) a returning officer had no locus standi to bring such an application; (iv) any condidate whose position was likely to be affected by the application ought to be made a respondent to the application; (v) that an application under r47 ought to be made in accordance with CPR Pt8; (vi) that an application for a recount under r47 was not objectionable provided that the evidence demonstrated that the order was needed in support of an election petition or an existing or intended prosecution; and (vii) only a judge could hear an application under r47.
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