In the context of a decision as to whether to grant bail under s.7(5) Bail Act 1976 the magistrates' court was not obliged to consider "reasonable excuse" as a defence to a breach of prior bail conditions.Application for judicial review of a decision of West London Magistrates' Court on 26 June 2003 to commit the claimant ('V') into custody. V had been charged with an offence and had made a guilty plea. V had been released on bail but had breached his bail conditions. At the magistrates' court his later further application for bail was refused following a decision that it was not open to V to raise "reasonable excuse" as a defence to a breach of bail conditions on a consideration of whether to grant bail under s.7(5) Bail Act 1976. On the instant application V argued that on a consideration under s.7(5) of the Act: (i) justices were required first to decide whether or not there had been a breach of bail conditions; (ii) in so doing they were entitled and required to take into account any "reasonable excuse"; and (iii) accordingly, those words should be read into s.7(5) on the bases that: (a) logic and common sense so dictated by reference to the words "reasonable grounds" in s.7(3)(b) in relation to a police officer's decision to arrest an accused where he thought there was likely to be a breach of bail conditions; (b) similarly, the criminal offence of failing to surrender to bail gave rise to a "reasonable cause" defence in the context of s.6; and (c) if those words were not imported s.7(5) was incompatible with Art.5 European Convention on Human Rights.HELD: (1) Section 7(5) involved a two-stage process. The court had first to decide whether or not there had been a breach and then decide whether to release an accused on bail or remand him into custody. (2) As regards the first stage, justices were required to act fairly and to give an accused the opportunity to answer the allegation of a breach of bail conditions. However, that did not involve an enquiry into whether there was a reasonable excuse. Section 7(5) did not include the words "reasonable excuse" and there was no offence under s.7 that required a defence. Moreover, s.7(3)(b) was concerned with a constable's belief; not the existence of any defence open to an accused. Accordingly, the words "reasonable excuse" should not be imported into s.7(5). (3) As regards the second stage, the justices had to consider all the circumstances of the case including whether there was a reasonable excuse for the breach of bail conditions. The breach was just one factor to be taken into account when considering whether to release an accused on bail again or remand him into custody (R v Liverpool City Justices, ex parte Director of Public Prosecutions (1993) QB 233 and R v Havering Magistrates' Court, ex parte Director of Public Prosecutions (2001 2 CAR 12 considered). (4) If that approach were followed there could be no possible breach of Art.5 of the Convention.Application dismissed.
 EWHC 1809 (Admin)