Pett v Greyhound Racing Association Ltd

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date05 April 1968
Judgment citation (vLex)[1968] EWCA Civ J0405-2
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
Plaintiff Respondent
Greyhound Racing Association Ltd.
Defendants Appellants

[1968] EWCA Civ J0405-2


The Master of the Rolls

(Lord Denning)

Lord Justice Davies and

Lord Justice Russell

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

Civil Division

From Mr Justice Cusack

MR. E. W. EVELEIGH, Q. C. and MR. R. JOHNSON (instructed by Messrs Herbert Smith & Co.) appeared as Counsel for the Appellants.

MR. G. COHEN (instructed by Messrs Shindler & Co.) appeared as Counsel for the Respondent.


MR. Pett is a trainer of greyhounds. He holds a licence from the National Greyhound Racing Club. He pays £25 a year for that licence. It entitles him to train greyhounds for races on all tracks which are licensed by the Club. The Club is rather similar to the Jockey Club which we have had several times in this Court. The Stewards of the Club licence racecourse tracks, track stewards, trainers, and so forth. The Club may not have a complete monopoly, but they certainly have an important control over a large part of the greyhound racing industry. The livelihood of a trainer such as MR. Pett may depend a good deal on his having and retaining his licence. The White City Stadium is owned by the Greyhound Racing Association Ltd. They employ track stewards. The racecourse is licensed by the Club. So are the track stewards.


In September 1967 MR. Pett had a dog called Dogstown Star. He entered it for the 700 yards open race at the White City Stadium on Saturday, 9th September, 1967. The race was due to start at 7.45 that night. He sent the dog with his kennelhand Hewlett to the Stadium for the race. In accordance with the usual practice, the dog was tested to see if it had been drugged or not. At about half past five the kennelhand took a sample of urine from Dogstown Star and handed it to the security officer. He sent it off for examination. At 7.30 a report was received that the test showed positive for barbiturates. In consequence the track stewards decided to withdraw the dog from the race. Afterwards a second sample of urine was taken from the dog. The kennelhand was present. He asked for a part of this second sample, but his request was refused.


On Monday, 11th September parts of the two samples were sent to the Glasgow University for examination. On Wednesday, 13th September, a report was received that the samples showed positive for barbiturates, and that the barbiturate appeared to be phenobarbitone. On the 14th September the racing managerof the Stadium telephoned to MR. Pett saying that there was to he an inquiry with respect to the drugging of the dog and it was to be held on the following Tuesday. This was followed up by a letter of the 16th September which said: "The official inquiry concerning the withdrawal of Dogstown Star from the fourth race on Saturday, September 9th will be held at White City Stadium. London, at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, September 19th; your presence together with your kennelhand who was present at the meeting on September 9th will be required". He added that the analysis by Glasgow University of the sample had proved positive.


MR. Pett got that letter on the morning of Monday, 18th September. The inquiry was to be held the next day. He immediately went to see his solicitor. His solicitor on that very day wrote to the Secretary of the White City Stadium saying: "This notice is much too short for MR. Pett to give instructions for him to be represented, and we shall be glad, therefore, if you will give us an alternative appointment in say fourteen days' time". It is plain from that letter that MR. Pett desired to be represented by his lawyers at the inquiry, and that is why they requested an adjournment.


The General Manager replied saying: "We are agreeable to postpone the date of the inquiry to Tuesday, 3rd October. Please advise MR. Pett that he is required to attend the inquiry at White City Stadium at 11 a.m. 3rd October, 1967, together with his kennelman, MR. Hewlett".


On that day MR. Pett and his kennelman went to the Stadium. He went together with his solicitor and counsel. The General manager and the Stewards were taken aback by the presence of counsel and solicitor. They were quite nonplussed. They did no know what to do. They did not want counsel or solicitors at the inquiry. They suggested that they might stay outside and pass messages in and out. But that was obviously impracticable. Eventually they decided to take time to consider the point. They adjourned the inquiry to 10th October, and thenit was adjourned to the 3lst October. On the day before the hearing, the General Manager telephoned to MR. Pett's solicitor saying he would not be allowed to be legally represented at the inquiry. Thereupon on the 3rd November MR. Pett's solicitor issued a writ asking for a declaration that he was entitled to be represented by counsel at the inquiry and an injunction to restrain them holding the inquiry unless he was allowed to be represented. They moved the Court for an injunction. MR. Justice Cusack granted an interlocutory injunction. Now there is an appeal to this Court.


The disciplinary powers of the Club are contained in a book of "Rules of Racing" which they issue. MR. Pett, when he got his licence, agreed to the rules. They are not very precise, but the relevant rules seem to be Rules 48 and 49. They give these powers to "The Stewards", meaning the track stewards employed by the owners of the racecourse. Rule 48 says that: "The Stewards shall regulate, control, take cognizance of, and adjudicate upon, the conduct of all officials, and of all owners, trainers, kennelhands, and persons attendant on the greyhounds". Rule 49 says that: "The Stewards shall have power to punish at their discretion any person, subject to their control, with a fine not exceeding £20, and with suspension, and shall report all such facts and remit the amount of the fine to the Stewards of the National Greyhound Racing Club, who may at their discretion hold a further inquiry into the matter and make such order as they think fit. A right of appeal against the Stewards of the meeting will lie if leave to appeal is given by the Stewards of the National Greyhound Racing Club". He is to deposit £10 on the appeal and the Stewards may "after hearing the appeal" make such order as to the deposit as they think fit.


Those rules contain nothing about the procedure on an inquiry. But I think it clear law that, before disciplinary action could be taken against a trainer, notice would have to begiven to him of the charge against him: and he would have to he given a fair opportunity of meeting the charge and of contradicting or correcting any statement prejudicial to his interests.


We have been told of the procedure which is adopted by the stewards. It seems to me in general to meet the requirements of the law. The General Manager states in his affidavit in paragraph 8s "As a steward of the defendants' stadium, I have been present at numerous stewards' inquiries and am conversant with the procedure involved. The trainer, whose greyhound is the subject of the inquiry, is informed of the date, time and place of the inquiry and is told that he and his kennelhand may attend to give evidence. If the inquiry is as a result of a positive urine test, the stewards receive written statements from the security officer, the chromatography analyst, the veterinary surgeon and the racing manager, and they consider the analyst's report from Glasgow. The trainer is present to hear all the evidence given by witnesses and is given the opportunity to question the witnesses. There is now produced to remarked G. R. A.7 a bundle containing copies of statements that were made for the purposes of the inquiry in relation to the plaintiff's greyhound 'Dogstown Star'. The stewards then receive evidence from the trainer, and usually ask the trainer a number of questions. They may also ask the security officer or the veterinary surgeon questions. On this information...

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