Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED November 20, 2003

In the context of a prosecution under s.97 and s.99 Transport Act 1968, time sheets of drivers were admissible in evidence under s.24 Criminal Justice Act 1988. The court gave guidance on the form and content of cases stated.Appeal by the prosecutor ('V') by way of case stated against the decision of District Judge Morgan at the Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court on 22 April 2003 that documentary evidence in the form of time sheets was inadmissible as evidence to assist the prosecution of the respondent company ('J') for offences of failures to use tachographs properly and driving in excess of permitted hours contrary to s.97 and s.99 Transport Act 1968. The magistrates' court held, inter alia, that the evidence should not be admitted as the time sheets could not be treated as business documents under s.24 Criminal Justice Act 1988. Under s.24(1)(i) of the 1988 Act a document was required, inter alia to have been created or received by a person in the course of a trade or business and under s.24(1)(ii) the information contained in the document was required to have been supplied by the person who had made the statement, or another, who had, or might reasonably be supposed to have had, personal knowledge of the matters dealt with. On the present appeal V argued that: (i) the magistrates conclusion as to admissibility, without hearing evidence, that there was nothing in the evidence that could conceivably be capable of raising a case that the conditions of s.24 of the Act had been met was unsupportable; and (ii) in reliance on R v Foxley (1995) 2 CAR 523, the magistrates' court should have held that the circumstances of the retention and production of the time sheets raised a case that the conditions of s.24 of the Act had been met as it could be inferred that they had been received or created by someone acting in the course of a business. J argued that: (a) the time sheets were hearsay. The core prosecution case was that the time sheets had not been properly filled in. The time sheets had been sought to be adduced as proof of their content and who had made them; (b) Foxley (supra) concerned real and not hearsay evidence and was obiter in relation to the latter; and (c) the magistrates' court had therefore been correct to hold that they were inadmissible.HELD: (1) In relation to s.24(1)(i) of the 1988 Act, it was plain that the time sheets were what they purported to be on their face; a weekly record showing the names of particular drivers, the mileage driven, fuel used and hours worked. (2) In relation to s.24(1)(ii) of the 1988 Act, it was clear from Foxley (supra) that the purpose of the legislation was to enable documents to speak for themselves. It plainly envisaged that the court could draw inferences about documents without the requirement for oral evidence from the maker or keeper of them. It would be a serious blow to parliament's intention if the latter requirement existed. Accordingly, the court was entitled and bound to look at the face of documents in order to answer both of the conditions of s.24 of the 1988 Act. (3) In the present case, without having to treat the time sheets as proving the statements they contained, the very look of them fulfilled both of the conditions. There was full scope for J to test the strength and reliability of their content and to the extent that that evidence was unreliable, J was in the best position to challenge it as the origin of the time sheets was J. (4) It was to be noted that in the present appeal the case stated had not been properly set out. Guidelines as to the form and content of such cases were as follows: (i) where there were a number of informations raising the same question the case stated did not need to set out the detail of all the informations where nothing turned on the differences between them; (ii) the case stated should set out the facts found/accepted with any requests for documents and the responses to such requests; (iii) the submissions of both sides should be included in the case; (iv) the court below should set out its conclusions on matters in issue and the questions for the consideration of the Court; (v) it was open to the court below to ask counsel to submit a first draft of the case stated but, in any event, when the case was signed it was required to be in the proper form.Appeal allowed.