I was at court with a client accused of common assault by kicking a bailiff who jammed his boot into his door to stop it being closed on him.
The client will remain nameless because he is a solicitor, although non-practicing, and hired me to build his defence. The bailiff company was Phoenix and the trial was at Willesden Magistrates Court earlier today.
He was originally charged with obstructing an enforcement agent, contrary to Paragraph 68 of Schedule 12, but I argued this to be dropped because there is no prospect of a conviction because the bailiff breached of Paragraph 24(2) of Schedule 12. A principal test of a Paragraph 68 charge.
The Crown was unable to show any power authorising the use of force against a person so instead, charged him with a lesser offence of common assault.
My client admits he kicked the bailiff in the shin to sucessfully get his foot out of his door, but the case of common assault against the bailiff failed because my client acted in reasonable self defence. The bailiff deployed an illegal measure, in this case the threshold maneuver in breach of Paragraph 24(2) of Schedule 12.
I used the Deighton case, a precedent involving a bailiff who was trying to "arrest" a debtor and was head-butted knocking him out cold. Deighton was prosecuted, but the prosecution failed because he acted in reasonable self defence. It was the bailiff that made sudden movements towards Deighton causing him to involuntarily defend himself from injury.
The noteworthy aspect of this case: A debtor may use reasonable force to remove a bailiff from a door after he places his foot preventing the door being closed on him.
The client brings an EAC2 for multiple breaches of Schedule 12 and a recommendation the bailiff attends further training in the Schedule 12 enforcement procedure.
I have referred the client to a specialist fee earner to start work bring a claim against the arresting police force for false arrest, unlawful imprisonment and malicious prosecution. There will be a recommendation that police constables receive better training in schedule 12 enforcement procedures to protect themselves from future liability for false arrests by lack of knowledge of enforcement procedures.
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