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R v Allen [1985]

R v Allen [1985] AC 1029 is a notable case decided by the House of Lords in the United Kingdom. The case involved the interpretation of the offence of making off without payment under the Theft Act 1968.


In this case, Allen stayed at a hotel for nearly a month but left without settling his bill. He contacted the hotel and explained that he was experiencing financial difficulties due to pending business transactions. As a form of security for the debt, he left his passport with the hotel and arranged to collect his belongings later. However, upon his return to the hotel to retrieve his belongings, he was arrested by the police.


During the trial, the jury sought clarification on whether the offence of making off without payment required an intention to permanently avoid payment or if a temporary evasion of payment could be sufficient. The judge instructed the jury that in count 2 of the case, where payment was required on the spot upon leaving the hotel, there had been a failure to make payment as required.


The jury convicted Allen, but he appealed the decision, arguing that the offence should only apply to cases involving a permanent intention to avoid payment.


The House of Lords quashed the conviction and ruled in his favour. It was held that the offence of making off without payment required an intention to permanently avoid payment. They made a distinction between count 1, which involved a permanent intent to avoid payment, and count 2, where payment was expected on the spot but did not necessarily indicate a permanent intention to avoid payment.


This case clarified that the offence of making off without payment required a permanent intent to avoid payment. A temporary evasion of payment, as in count 2 of the case, was not considered sufficient to establish the offence.


You can learn more about this topic with our Criminal Law and Criminal Practice notes.


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