Hayes -v- Willoughby - SC - 20-Mar-2013 - Lord Neuberger, President, Lord Mance, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed (Bailii,  UKSC 17, Bailii Summary) - Torts - Other
The claimant and appellant had been employer and employee who had fallen out, with a settlement in 2005. The appellant then began an unpleasant and obsessive personal vendetta against Mr Hayes, complaining to public bodies with allegations of tax evasion, fraud and similar. Several investigations all concluded against the appellant, and indeed disproved in 2007. Eventually the respondent sought an order under the 1977 Act which was granted. The court accepted that the appellant was genuine but misguided. The appellant's appeal was rejected by the Court of Appeal saying that whatever the "avowed purpose" of Mr Willoughby himself, the purpose of his conduct was not reasonably or rationally connected to the prevention or detection of crime after June 2007.
Held: (Lord Reed dissenting) The appeal was dismissed. The court did not accept the distinction made in the Court of Appeal between the party's objectives and the results of the actions complained of.
Lord Sumption said: "Section 1(3)(a), although it was no doubt drafted mainly with an eye to the prevention or detection of crime by public authorities, applies equally to private persons who take it upon themselves to enforce the criminal law. Within broad limits, the law recognises the right of private persons to do this, but vigilantism can easily and imperceptibly merge into unlawful harassment."
and "I do not doubt that in the context of section 1(3)(a) purpose is a subjective state of mind. But in my opinion, the necessary control mechanism is to be found in the concept of rationality"
and "Before an alleged harasser can be said to have had the purpose of preventing or detecting crime, he must have sufficiently applied his mind to the matter. He must have thought rationally about the material suggesting the possibility of criminality and formed the view that the conduct said to constitute harassment was appropriate for the purpose of preventing or detecting it. If he has done these things, then he has the relevant purpose. The court will not test his conclusions by reference to the view which a hypothetical reasonable man in his position would have formed. If, on the other hand, he has not engaged in these minimum mental processes necessary to acquire the relevant state of mind, but proceeds anyway on the footing that he is acting to prevent or detect crime, then he acts irrationally. "
Lord Reed dissented saying that there was no requirement that the proposed actions were required to be rational.
Protection from Harassment Act 1997 s. 1
Hayes -v- Willoughby CA 13-12-2011 (Bailii,  EWCA Civ 1541,  1 WLR 1510) - Appeal from
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