Balancing Conflicts

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  • In every area of law there are potentially conflciting interests.
  • Laws are important so we can set out rules, which should ensure relevant interests are considered and possible conflicts are averted.
  • Courts and tribunals ensure that if conflicts do occur, that there is a way of sorting them out.
  • Rudolf von Jhering suggested law was a way of odering society, where many conflicting interests exist.
  • Not all interests can be satisfied and without regulation between them there would be chaos.
  • Jurist Roscoe Pound suggested that conflicting interests can be catergorised by Individual Interests: privacy, property and domestic relations; Public Interests: asserted by individuals or Social Interests: safety, health, public order, economic progress and interests of the state.
  • Pound said only equal interets on the 'same plane' could be balanced e.g an individual interest can't be balanced against a social interests.
  • Courts don't always follow this, one way of considering how effective law is able to balance conflicting interests is to compare public and private interests.
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Dennis v MOD

  • The Dennis' recieved £950,000 of compensation for the RAF jets that flew over their house.
  • They were given this as the jets stopped them from being able to enjoy their propertybecause they were unable to hold conversations, talk on the phone, or do gardening.
  • No injunction possible because there was a public interests as the pilots needed to be trained to fly expensive aircrafts in combat, as safely as possible.
  • Fair result to some degree for the Dennis' as they were 'delighted' with the ruling, even though it fell short of the £10 million they were hoping for.
  • This is likely because Harrier jets were to be phased out in 2012, so they hoped it wouldn't be a problem for much longer.
  • Fair result for MOD because even though they had to pay, they were able to keep flying without any restrictions which was important because they needed to train pilots.
  • Overall, both parties had to make sacrifices but both seemed relatively happy at the end of the trial, so this was a case of where balancing conflicting interests did seem to work.
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Miller V Jackson

  • Mrs Miller was claiming an injunction on the Lintz Cricket Club because cricket balls were being thrown occasionaly over their house, somtimes hitting tiles, and once they broke a window.
  • Cricket had be played there for 70 years, a field was sold which was made into the House the Millers bought. 
  • In 1976, after complaints the club erected higher fences, which meant less balls got over.
  • They agreed to pay for damages, but Mrs Miller declined help and went to court.
  • Millers were entitled to recover £24 of special damages and £150 general damages for negligence and nuisance for personal inconvenience and interference of enjoyment of their house and garden.
  • The private interest was the Miller's enjoyment of their property and the public interest was the community being able to use the cricket ground for their own enjoyment.
  • The High Court judged that the injunction was satisfied and wanted to stop the cricket, the defendants went to the Court of Appeal.
  • Lord Denning's decision was that the cricket shouldn't be stopped for one individual who should have known what they were getting themselves into.
  • Geoffery Lane and ******* Bruce LJJ would have upheld the injunction, but felt that the damages were a sufficient remedy.
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  • It means Automatic Number Plate Recognition and is a system of cameras set all around the country which track people's number plates to the hour, place and who own the vehicle.
  • 8,300 in bus lanes, box junctions, and traffic lights, but you can't be charged with speeding offences if found from these cameras.
  • Its used to help detect and deter criminality e.g tackling traveling criminals, terrorists, and Organised Crime Groups. Info can be stored for up to 2 years.
  • As a vehicle passes an ANPR camera, its registration number is read and checked against database records of vehicle's of interest.
  • Police officers can intercept a vehicle, check for evidence, and make arrests.
  • It has been important for locating stolen vehicles, and tackling uninsured vehicle use.
  • Mike Penning, the policing minister, said "The use of ANPR and access to the data it collects is subject to a stringent set of safeguards. The government aims to ensure that the public can be confident that survelliance camera systems in public places are there for their protection".
  • Tony Porter, a former police chief, said "There is no statutory authority for the creation of the ANPR database, its creation was never agreed by Parliment".
  • Some privacy campaigners say info collected does not only relate to criminals but actually collects data that is 99% about innocent people.
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  • "There's no getting around the fact that they are capturing massive amounts of data on the record of people's cars, which means they can start to do very crude tracking of vehicles around the country. The collection of data in the first place ought to require suspicion before its even ingested into the system".
  • At the moment the balance of interests lies more on the public side as the police are allowed to keep tracking this data, even though many people aren't happy about it.
  • The private interests of people should be taken into consideration because innocent people shouldn't have their information tracked, but the police can't know who is innocent and who is not.


A lot of the time, conflicting interests can be balanced out, just like in Dennis v MOD, but on default, it is usually the public's interests which usually win out, as it is seen that the majority of people being happy is more important than a few.

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