James McWilliams successful in the Supreme Court

On 1 November 2023, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in R (on the application of Palmer) v Northern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court [2023] UKSC 38. The appeal arose in the unusual context of an attempted criminal prosecution of Mr Palmer, one of the Joint Administrators of West Coast Capital (USC) Limited ( “WCC”), by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for an offence under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (“TULRCA 1992”). Mr Palmer contended that as an administrator of WCC he was not an “officer” of WCC liable to prosecution under TULCRA 1992. Mr Palmer had failed in that argument before the Northern Derbyshire Magistrates Court and on his judicial review of that decision before the Divisional Court, each having held that an administrator of a company was an officer of the company over which he or she was appointed.

The Supreme Court allowed Mr Palmer’s appeal, holding that as an administrator of a company, Mr Palmer was not an “officer” of that company within the meaning of the phrase “any director, manager, secretary or similar officer of the body corporate”. As such he could not commit the offence for which he had been prosecuted. The judgment contains an important review of the authorities on what constitutes an “officer” of the company, holding that a series of previous decisions on this issue were wrongly decided.

James McWilliams, led by David Reade KC, acted for Mr Palmer. James and David were instructed by David Sonn of Sonn Macmillan Walker.

A copy of the judgment can be found at: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2021-0233-judgment.pdf

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