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Failure to takes measures to enable claimant to hear respondent’s solicitor breaches natural justice


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Joined: 21 March 2016

Although Paling v Ipswich Magistrates Court & Anor [2021] EWHC 2739 (Admin) (18 October 2021) is a case concerning the quashing of council tax liability orders, it may be helpful in other jurisdictions where a claimant complains that they could not hear the respondent properly and are then not given an opportunity to properly respond to the case against them.

Here, Mr Paling’s evidence included that -

‘The Respondent’s solicitor could not be heard from the Applicant’s place, and so the Applicant could not answer the Respondent’s submission. When the Applicant several times expressed concern that he could not hear the Chairman of the Justices took no measures to enable the Applicant to hear the Respondent’s solicitor, as in Franz Kafka’s Der Process (The Trial).’ (paragraph 4)

The judge ruled -

‘… [the claimant] informed the magistrates that he was unable to hear, and that he was not given the opportunity of making closing oral submissions. Standing back and reaching an independent view, I have concluded that the claim for judicial review succeeds. In my view, on the basis of the Claimant’s evidence, which I accept, a fair minded and informed observer would conclude in this case that justice had not been seen to be done. I do not consider that the merits of whether the Claimant’s application would succeed, upon which I do not form a view, should alter my decision. The Claimant’s application to quash the liability orders should be remitted to the magistrates to be heard by a differently constituted bench.’ (paragraph 21)