New Judgment: R (Electoral Commission) v City of Westminster Magistrates Court & UKIP  UKSC 40
29 Thursday Jul 2010
On appeal from:  EWCA Civ 1078
There was nothing to support the proposition that where a donor to a political party was not foreign but had for some reason failed to exercise his right to be placed on the electoral register, Parliament intended that forfeiture of the entire donation should be virtually automatic. On the contrary, where the donor was shown not to be foreign, Parliament would have intended, by conferring a discretion whether or not to forfeit, that there would be a careful evaluation of all the circumstances in order to decide whether the draconian step of forfeiture was justified. Where a political party had accepted a donation from an impermissible source, there should be an initial presumption in favour of forfeiture, and the onus was on the party to show why it should not. Again, the onus would be on the party to explain how the donation had come to be accepted. The power to order forfeiture of an amount equal to the value of an impermissible donation was to be treated as implicitly including the power to order forfeiture of a lesser sum. Such an interpretation was desirable to cope with the situation where the court was persuaded that the donor was not foreign, in which case total forfeiture might be disproportionate.