DPP v Gautam Chajed

Ben Douglas-Jones and Dominic Lewis advised and represented the Director of Public Prosecutions in the case of DPP v Gautam Chajed [2013] EWHC 188 (Admin). Their submissions were endorsed by the Administrative Court in a case where, immediately following a conviction in the Magistrates' Court, defence counsel had raised a further legal issue with the bench. As a result of that submission the bench retired and then returned to acquit the defendant, purporting to have reopened the case pursuant to section 142 Magistrates' Courts Act 1980.

The Court found that the point raised by defence counsel was a poor one, but emphasised that section 142 is a slip rule; 'once a guilty verdict has been pronounced by magistrates, it does not enable a convicted defendant to make further submissions with a view to persuading the bench to change its mind and substitute a not guilty verdict'. Laws LJ and Hickinbottom J ruled that if there had been any merit in defence counsel's argument, the appropriate course for advancing that argument would have been on appeal, either to the Crown Court or to the High Court by way of case stated. Since, in their judgment, the point raised did not affect the safety of the conviction, the acquittal was set aside and the original finding of guilt restored.