Allen v. Whitehead

[1929] All E.R. 13 (1929), [1930] K.B. 211 (1930)

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Allen v. Whitehead

England and Wales High Court of Justice, King’s Bench Division
[1929] All E.R. 13 (1929), [1930] K.B. 211 (1930)

Facts

Under applicable law, a bar owner committed the crime of disorderly conduct if the owner knowingly allowed prostitutes to meet or hang out in his bar. Whitehead (defendant) owned a bar and hired a manager to operate it. Whitehead visited the bar only once or twice per week. The police noticed prostitutes congregating in Whitehead’s bar and warned Whitehead about the illegality of allowing that activity to continue. Whitehead then told his manager not to allow any prostitutes to congregate in the bar. However, the manager knowingly allowed prostitutes to continue to meet and hang out in the bar for the next seven nights. Whitehead was charged with violating the criminal statute. No evidence existed that Whitehead personally knew that the prostitutes had continued to gather at his bar. The criminal charge against Whitehead was based solely on the manager’s knowledge and conduct. The magistrate found that because Whitehead had lacked personal knowledge of the activity, Whitehead had not knowingly allowed the disorderly conduct. The magistrate dismissed the criminal charge. The matter was appealed to determine whether an employer could be held criminally responsible for an employee’s violation of a criminal law.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hewart, C.J.)

Concurrence (Brand, J.)

Concurrence (Avory, J.)

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