The map so far:

Welcome to the London Law Map!

Many people think they are familiar with legal London - the Royal Courts of Justice, the Inns of Court, the Old Bailey etc. But the streets of London are also home to a huge amount of case law. Here is just a selection:

Thursday, 21 November 2013

R v Walkington [1979] 1 WLR 1169

What's the case about?
Mr Walkington visited Debenhams on Oxford Street just before closing time.  He went to the second floor where the shop assistants were cashing up the tills.  He walked behind an unattended sales counter and pulled the till open.  Seeing that it contained no money, Mr Walkington slammed the till shut and made to leave the store.  He was stopped by a security guard and arrested.  He was convicted of burglary under s.9(1)(a) Theft Act 1968.

Where is it on the map?
At point K.

Who won?
The Crown ('R').  

What's the principle?
The offence of burglary under s.9(1)(a) Theft Act 1968 has two elements:

1. The defendant must enter a building, or a part of a building, without permission - that is to say that they must be a trespasser

2. Having entered the building, or part of the building, as a trespasser, the defendant must steal or try to steal something from the building.

Mr Walkington was very sorry for what he had done, but denied he was guilty of burglary.  He argued that the Crown Court judge had misdirected the jury as to the law.  These were his arguments:

1. He was not a trespasser as the till was located in an area that could be accessed by the public.  

2. He had only intended to steal any money he might find in the till.  Once he had seen that the till was empty, he had not tried to steal anything (his intention was conditional).  

The Court of Appeal rejected both of these arguments.  These were the reasons:

1. The area behind the sales counter was clearly out of bounds to the public.  This would have been obvious to Mr Walkington. 

2. Intending to steal anything that might be worth stealing was analagous to trying to steal.   It is irrelevant that the defendant may have later discovered that there was nothing worth stealing.

As both elements of the offence were satisfied, Mr Walkington's conviction was safe and his appeal was dismissed.

What's it like today?
The Debenhams store on Oxford Street is currently being refurbished.  When it is finished, the 1970s concrete will be hidden by shimmery silver tiles.  Currently, it is a building site.  Despite my best efforts, I could not persuade the security guard to let me take any photos inside.  But here are a couple of the exterior:

Note the ugly concrete still visible on the lower part of the building:

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Lipkin Gorman v Karpnale Ltd [1991] 2 AC 548

What's the case about?
The claimants (Lipkin Gorman) were a firm of solicitors.  Mr Cass was one of the partners.  He stole £222,000 from the firm's client account in order to fund his gambling habit.  He made company cheques payable to 'cash', and gambled the money away at the Playboy Club casino in Mayfair.  Mr Cass was not a particularly lucky gambler - he lost around £150,000 of the money he had stolen.  The Playboy Club were not aware that Mr Cass was gambling with stolen money.  When the other partners of Lipkin Gorman discovered Mr Cass' theft, they sued the owners of the Playboy Club for the return of their clients' money.

Where is it on the map?
At point B.

Who won?
The Playboy Club were ordered to return the majority of the money - around £150,000.  But the Club did not have to return the balance of the £222,000 that Mr Cass had spent, as they had paid it out to him as winnings. 

What's the principle?
This case was heard by the House of Lords and illustrates the operation of the common law remedy of restitution.  Where the legal owner of property (in this case Lipkin Gorman solicitors) is deprived of that property, they can sue the person who is now holding the property on the grounds that they have been 'unjustly enriched'.

The legal owner can recover a sum equivalent to the value of the property that they have been deprived of.  Liability is 'strict', which means that the defendant will have to reimburse the claimant regardless of whether they received the property in good faith.  However, the claimant must be able to prove that the defendant received their property using the rules of common law tracing.

There are two defences available to an innocent defendant:

1.  A defendant will not have to reimburse a claimant if he receives the money or property as part of a valid  contract.  In this case, the defence was not available because, under the law at the time (the Gaming Act 1845) it was not possible to make a valid gambling contract. 

2.  A defendant who has acted in good faith will not have to reimburse a claimant if he has changed his position as a result of receiving the property.  This is why the Playboy Club did not have to return money equivalent to the amount that they had paid out to Mr Cass as his winnings - those winnings were paid in good faith and the Club could not easily get them back.

What's it like today?
London's original Playboy Club - the star of this case - closed in 1981 and is now a Dorchester Hotel:
The doorman very kindly allowed me to photograph the lobby:

There are some wonderful photos of the building on the Dorchester's website.

And, the BBC have a slideshow of photos from back in the days when the building was still the Playboy Club.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Scott v London and St Katherine Docks Co [1861-73] All ER Rep 246

What's the case about?
The plaintiff (claimant) was employed at St Katharine Docks.  As he walked from one part of the docks to another, he was hit by six bags of sugar that fell from a crane above him.  He was injured and sued the dock company on the basis that their negligence had caused his injuries.

Where is it on the map?
At point P.

Who won?
The plaintiff.  The defendant was found to have caused the plaintiff's injuries, even though it could not be established exactly how the bags of sugar had come to fall upon him.

What's the principle?
This case is an authority for the concept of res ipsa locquitur, which can be translated as 'the thing speaks for itself'.
In a claim of negligence a claimant needs to prove (on the balance of probabilities) that the defendant has caused his loss.  The usual test can be found in Barnett v Kensington and Chelsea Hospital Management Committee [1969] 1 Q.B. 428

The concept of res ipsa locquitiur can be used to help a claimant who might struggle to prove exactly how the defendant caused their loss.  There will be a presumption of negligence if the thing (in this case the crane) was under the control of the defendant and the accident would not usually happen unless there was some negligence on the part of the defendant.

What's it like today?
St Katharine's Docks are still operational, and are home to yachts, barges, and some very nice bars and restaurants.  The building with the clock tower is called Ivory House and was built in 1852.  So it would still have been fairly new at the time of the plaintiff's accident, which was in January 1864.

The docks are in an ideal location, maybe 50 meters from Tower Bridge:

Thanks to the tall guy who helped me to take a picture of this bollard, which is embossed 'St Katharine by the Tower':

What's with the spelling?
The docks are quite clearly called 'St Katharine's'.  But every citation I have seen calls it 'St Katherine's'.  I am satisfied that it is the same place.  But I don't think it's fair to get into an argument with Victorian court reporters over spellings, so I have kept the title as per the citations...