§ [Nos. 32 and 33]
§ Clause 29, page 24, line 9, leave out "sections 27 and 28 "and insert" this Part".
§ Leave out Clause 31 and insert the following new clause:
§ Application to Crown
§ ".—(1) This Part of this Act shall bind the Crown.
§ (2) Section 21 of the Administration of Justice Act 1969 (power of court to order inspection, custody, etc. of property pending commencement of action) shall bind the Crown so far as it relates to property (within the meaning of that section) as to which it appears to the court that it may become the subject-matter of subsequent proceedings involving a claim in respect of personal injuries to a person or in respect of a person's death.1018
§ (3) A court shall not make an order under section 27 or 28 of this Act, nor an order under section 21 of the said Act of 1969, if it considers that compliance with the order, if made, would be likely to be injurious to the public interest.
§ (4) In this section references to the Crown do not include references to Her Majesty in Her private capacity nor to Her Majesty in right of Her Duchy of Lancaster, nor to the Duke of Cornwall.".
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, if no noble Lord objects, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 32 and 33. We now come to Parts III and IV of the Bill, which relate to discovery and to mortgage possession actions. These two Government Amendments I think would be conveniently taken together. The new clause is intended to replace Clause 31, and the Amendment in Clause 29—page 24, line 9—is consequential. Clause 28(2) enables the High Court in an action for damages for personal injuries to make an order for the inspection, photographing, preservation, et cetera, of property which does not belong to a party to the proceedings but which is the subject matter of the proceedings or as to which any question arises in the proceedings. By virtue of Clause 31 this provision binds the Crown, except the Queen in her personal capacity, although the court is precluded from making an order if the court considers that it would be injurious to the public interest.
Clause 28(2) gives effect to a recommendation in paragraph 367 of the Report of the Winn Committee on Personal Injuries Litigation, and is complementary to Section 21 of the Administration of Justice Act 1969, which enables the High Court, before the commencement of proceedings, to make an order for the inspection, photographing, preservation, et cetera, of property which is likely to become the subject matter of the proceedings or as to which any question may arise in the proceedings. Section 21 is not confined to prospective proceedings for personal injuries. On the other hand, it does not bind the Crown. A confusing and anomalous situation will therefore arise when Clause 28 comes into operation. Both Section 21 and Clause 28(2) will have to be supported by rules of court prescribing the circumstances in which an order may 1019 be made, and it is obviously desirable that there should be a single rule or set of rules providing for the inspection, and so on, of property before the commencement of proceedings and against a third party during the course of proceedings.
As matters stand, however, that could not be done without introducing qualifications which might easily be overlooked. The new clause accordingly provides for Section 21 of the Act of 1969 to bind the Crown in relation to claims for personal injuries to the same extent as Clause 28(2) and the other provisions of Part III of the Bill; that is to say, in prospective or pending proceedings for personal injuries the court will be able to make orders in respect of property belonging to the Crown, other than to the Queen in her personal capacity, unless the court considers that compliance with the order would be injurious to the public interest. The substitution of "This Part" for "Sections 31 and 32" in Clause 29(3) is a consequential Amendment to enable the definition of "personal injuries" to apply to the new clause. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendments.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, probably the only comment necessary is to welcome the inclusion of the Crown, not only under this Bill but under the earlier Act as well. I always tend to approve of this type of extension of the jurisdiction of the courts to deal with cases in which the Crown is involved. There is here a perfectly proper proviso which prevents a case from being so dealt with where the public interest is involved. But it is an important matter of principle, and I am glad that the Government have reversed their previous policy, both under this Bill and under last year's Act.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.