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Robson v Hallett [1967] 2 QB 939

The extent of an implied licence

Facts

A police sergeant and two constables went to a house where two defendants lived in order to enquire about some offences that had been committed. One of the constables knocked on the door and began to question one of the defendants. Shortly afterwards, the police sergeant came to the door and was allowed into the house by the defendant. The two constables were not allowed to enter and remained outside. When the father of the defendant saw the police sergeant he ordered him to leave. As the sergeant was leaving, the defendant jumped on his back and punched him. When the door opened, the constables outside saw what was happening and went to the assistance of the sergeant. A melee followed and a third defendant, the first’s brother, joined in. The three defendants were convicted of assaulting the police officers in the execution of their duty. Appeals and cross appeals were made on the basis that the police officers were trespassers and therefore not correctly executing their duty.

Issue

Although the judgment resulted criminal convictions, the issue that the court was required to deal with was whether the police officers had been granted licence to enter the property and, if so, whether this licence was revoked.

Held

It was held that (1) the occupier of a dwelling house gives an implied licence to any member of the public on lawful business to come through the gate and knock on the door. (2) Police officers who lawfully enter premises and whose licence to do so is not revoked are acting in the exercise of their duty when coming to the assistance of another officer. (3) Once a licence to be on a property is revoked, a person must be given a reasonable time to leave.


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