In East Riding of Yorkshire Council v Dearlove (2012), the High Court held that a magistrates' court had erred in staying as an abuse of process, a prosecution of an individual for operating a private vehicle without a licence, on the basis that the council had entrapped the defendant by carrying out a "test purchase."
The defendant had placed an advert in a newspaper advertising his chauffeur service for "executive, corporate, business travel". The council informed him that he required a licence to operate this service, and were assured by the defendant that he had not had any business and would no longer operate a taxi service. The council also warned him that to check this they may carry out a "test purchase", by attempting to book his vehicle. Two council officials then successfully booked and travelled in the defendant's car. Following this test purchase he was arrested, and admitted that he knew he needed a licence, but had accepted the job anyway.
The issue was whether the council's test purchase had entrapped the defendant by luring him into carrying out the offence, for which he was then arrested.
On appeal, it was held that the local authority had not done anything that any ordinary member of the public would not have been able to do. The council had simply provided the defendant with the opportunity to provide the service he had advertised. As he had been warned of the possibility of the test purchase there was no unfairness. The magistrates had been wrong in holding that the council's test purchase had entrapped the defendant.
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