R v Ahluwalia

R v Ahluwalia (1993) 96 Cr App R 133

On 9th May 1989, after enduring many years of violence and humiliation from her husband, the appellant, Ahluwalia, threw some petrol in his bedroom, lit a stick from a candle she was holding and threw that also into the room.

Her husband sustained severe burns and died after six days.

She was charged with his murder.

The defence case was that she did not intend seriously to harm her husband, but only to inflict some pain. Relying on the history of ill treatment throughout the marriage, provocation was also taken as a second line of defence.

The defence therefore sought a verdict of manslaughter, but the jury returned one of murder.

Crown Court at Lewes convicted her of murder. She was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Ahluwalia appealed.

The appeal was allowed and the conviction of the murder quashed and a retrial ordered.


Ahluwalia was born in India to a middle class family. She completed an Arts Degree and then began a law course, but came under pressure from her family to marry.

Deceased came from a family of Kenyan Asian who had emigrated in 1971.

Ahluwalia went to Canada to stay with her brother and sister-in-law. A marriage was arranged between her and the deceased. They had not previously met. The marriage took place in Canada. They then came to England and settled in Crawley. Both had jobs. Two boys were born to them. One in July 1984 and one in January 1986. He was a big man and she was slight.

There was a whole history of ill treatment throughout the marriage to her culminating in the night of the incident: the deceased’s refusal to talk to her, his threat to use the hot iron on her, his threat to beat her the next morning if she did not provide him with money and his clear indication that he wished the marriage to end.

Ahluwalia did not give evidence. No medical evidence was adduced on her behalf.

Watteau v Fenwick

Watteau v Fenwick (1893) 1 QB 346

Humble had been carrying on business at a Public House called the Victoria Hotel at Stockton- on- Tees. Humble transferred the business to the defendants, Fenwick and Company, a firm of Brewers. Humble remained as defendants’ Manager, but the license was always taken out in Humble’s name and his name was painted over the door.

Under the terms and agreement made between Humble and the defendants, Humble had no authority to buy any goods for the business except bottled Ales and mineral waters. All other goods required were to be supplied by the defendants themselves.

Over the years, Cigars, Bovril and other articles had been delivered at the Victoria Hotel. The plaintiff, Watteau, had given credit to Humble only.

Action was brought to recover the price of those goods.

County Court Judge allowed the claims for the Cigars and Bovril only and gave judgment for the plaintiff.

Defendants appealed to the Queens Bench.

Appeal dismissed.

A Manager of a Public House would usually have authority to make purchases of the kind in issue and therefore the defendants, as principal, were liable.

In the absence of express knowledge of the restrictions imposed by the principal, the plaintiff could rely on such usual authority.


This case discusses the liability of an undisclosed principal or a dormant partner, where such a partner would be liable for acts of the agent which had been expressly forbidden. This case has been severely criticized by academics, but still has not been overruled and therefore stands as good law.

Stack v Dowden

Stack v Dowden [2007] UKHL 17

Mr. Stack and Ms. Dowden were permanently cohabiting since 1983. Mr. S was a builder/decorator, who later joined in regular employment with Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council, whereas Ms. D was an Electrical Engineer with the London Electricity Board. Mr. S earned £ 24,000, whilst Ms. D was earning £ 42,000 per annum. Four children were born to them in 1986,1987, 1989 and 1991.

In 1993, they bought a house in Chatsworth Road, London NW 2. It was conveyed into their joint names. This contained no declaration of trust, but did contain a declaration that the survivor could give a good receipt of capital money arising from a disposition of all or part of the property.

The price of Chatsworth Road house was £ 190,000. It was funded by selling a house which was in Ms. D’s sole name, her savings and a joint loan. Ms. D therefore had given 65% of the purchase price of the Chatsworth Road house.

The utilities bills were all in Ms. D’s name although Mr. S claimed to have paid some of them. Improvements to the house were also made by Mr. S.

They had kept separate bank accounts and had made a series of separate investments and savings.

The parties separated in October 2002. Mr. S left the property and Ms. D remained at Chatsworth Road with the children.

Mr. S sought a declaration that the house was held upon trust by both of them as tenants in common and an order for its sale. He also claimed for equal division of the proceeds. A lower court ordered to exclude Mr. S from the house and Ms. D was to pay Mr. S for the cost of his alternative accommodation.

The Central London County Court, on 06/10/2004 ordered that the property be sold and the net proceeds of sale divided equally between the parties, as should the joint endowment policy.

Ms. D appealed.

On 13/07/2005, the Court of Appeal allowed her appeal and ordered that the net proceeds of sale be divided 65% to 35% in her favor.

Mr. S appealed.

Appeal dismissed.

The GCHQ Case

Council of Civil Service Unions and others v Minister for the Civil Service (GCHQ case) [1984] 3 All E.R. 935

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) was a branch of the Civil Service, whose main functions were to ensure the security of the United Kingdom military and official communications and to provide signals intelligence for the government.

All the staff at GCHQ had a long standing right, originating when GCHQ was formed in 1947, to belong to national trade unions and most of them did so. The unions represented at GCHQ were all members of an association of Civil Service Unions and there was an established practice at GCHQ of consultation between the management and the unions about important alterations in the terms and conditions of employment of the staff.

On 7 occasions between 1979 and 1981 industrial action was taken at GCHQ, causing disruption.

On 22/12/1983, the Minister for the Civil Service issued an oral Instruction in terms of Article 4 of the Civil Service Order in Council, 1982 to the effect that the terms and condItions of Civil Servants at GCHQ would be revised to exclude membership of any trade union, other than the departmental staff association approved by the Director of GCHQ. This Instruction was issued without prior consultation with the staff at GCHQ.

The appellants applied for judicial review of the Minister’s Instruction, stating that the Minister had acted unfairly in removing their fundamental right to belong to a trade union, without consultation.

High court granted the application on the ground that the Minister ought to have consulted the staff before issuing the Instruction.

Minister appealed to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal allowed it on the ground of national security.

The appellants appealed to the House of Lords. Appeal dismissed on the ground, inter alia, of national security. Once the Minister produced evidence that her decision not to consult the staff before withdrawing the right to trade union membership was taken for the reason of national security, that overrides any right to judicial review.

Hedley Byrne v Heller

Hedley Byrne and Company Ltd. v Heller and Partners Ltd. [1963] 2 All E.R. 575

Hedley Byrne were a firm of Advertising Agents. Heller and Partners Ltd., were Merchant Bankers.

Hedley Byrne needed to ascertain the creditworthiness of a client, Easipower Ltd., who were banking with Heller and Partners.

Hedley Byrne got their Bank, National Provincial Bank, to obtain a report from Heller and Partners.

Firstly, the National Provincial Bank telephoned Heller and Partners to find out whether Easipower Ltd., would be good for an advertising contract of £8000 – £9000.

Later in 07/11/1958, the National Provincial Bank wrote to Heller and Partners to find out whether Easipower Ltd., was trustworthy in the way of business to the extent of £ 100,000 per annum.

On 11/11/1958, Heller and Partners replied stating that,


For your private use and without responsibility on the part of the Bank or its Officials. . . . Easipower Ltd. Respectably constituted Company, considered good for it’s ordinary business engagements

National Provincial Bank communicated these replies to Hedley Byrne. Hedley Byrne relied on these statements and as a result they lost over £17,000 when Easipower Ltd., went into liquidation.

Hedley Byrne sought to recover the loss from Heller and Partners as damages on the ground that these replies were given negligently and in breach of their duty to exercise care in giving them.

Appeal dismissed.

Liability excluded. No duty of care

Donoghue v Stevenson

Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] UKHL 100

In the evening of 26th August 1928, May Donoghue went to Wellmeadow Cafe in Paisley, Scotland with her lady friend.

The friend ordered a Pear and Ice Cream for herself and a Scotsman Ice Cream Float, a mix of Ice Cream and Ginger Beer, for Donoughue.

The owner of the Cafe, Francis Minchella, brought over a tumbler of Ice Cream and poured Ginger Beer on it from a brown and opaque bottle labelled D. Stevenson, Glen Lane, Paisley. 

Donoghue drank some of the Ice Cream Float.

Donoghue’s friend poured the remaining Ginger Beer into the tumbler and a decomposed Snail also floated out of the bottle.

Donoghue claimed that she felt ill from the sight complaining of abdominal pain. She received emergency treatment and subsequently diagnosed with severe gastroenteritis and shock.

Donoghue lodged a writ in the Court of Sessions, Scotland’s highest civil court, seeking £500 as damages.

Her action failed,but she was granted leave to appeal to the House of Lords.

House of Lords established Stevenson should be responsible for the well being of individuals who consume his products, given that they cannot be inspected. The case was remitted to the Court of Sessions in Scotland. Stevenson died before the case was finalized and its reported that there was an out of court settlement by the Executors of £ 200 of the £ 500 that was claimed.

Donoghue v Stevenson establishes 3 major legal principles.

1.It established that negligence is a tort. As Donoghue had not purchased the Ginger Beer, she could not establish contractual agreement with Stevenson;

2.Manufacturer has a duty of care to the consumer or users of their products; and

3.Neighbor principle – The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law you must not injure your neighbour,,which raises the question as to who is my neighbour.

Lord Atkin 

The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law,you must not injure your neighbour, and the lawyer’s question, who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then,in law, is my neighbour? The answer seems to be – persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question