BES Commercial Ltd and other companies v Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council

Summary judgment – Local authority. The defendant local authority (CWCBC) had been carrying out a trading standards related investigation into allegedly fraudulent conduct by the claimant supplier companies. Following a police search of the claimants' premises, under search warrants granted to the police on an ex parte basis, the claimants brought claims against CWCBC, alleging, among other things, misfeasance in public office, trespass to goods and breach of their human rights (the HRA claims). CWCBC claimed immunity from suit and contended that the HRA claims could not be pursued, unless and until the warrants had been quashed, and that the only basis on which the claimants would have been entitled to proceed was by way of judicial review. The master allowed CWCBC's application for a strike out and/or summary judgment in respect of the HRA claims. The Queen's Bench Division, in allowing the claimants' appeal, held that the master had been wrong to categorise the HRA claims as being unarguably exclusively justiciable in the public law arena, and that it was not an appropriate case for summary disposal, either by way of strike out, or summary judgment. In particular, the public law and immunity points relied on by CWCBC were not sufficiently compelling to have justified the course which the master had been persuaded to take.

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