Court to axe KC Colgan ban
WEEK the High Court in London cut the Kennel Club Rule A43 bans on Newfoundland
breeder Mrs Phyllis Colgan (Karazan) from five years to three years, allowing
her to show immediately with only another six months to serve of the initial
‘registration’ ban imposed on April 20th 1999.
his reserved judgment nine days after the three day case, Mr Justice Cooke
said that the ban was ‘manifestly excessive and disproportionate’ to the
‘object of the rules and the offences for which she was convicted.’
Colgan, 53, who now lives the USA was not present at the final hearing.
In May 1998 she had hired a 7.5 tonne box van to help transport some of
her 32 Newfoundland dogs from her home at Southgate Farm, Rushbrooke Lane,
Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. Ten of the dogs died from heatstroke on one
of the hottest days of the month when the van was held up in traffic on
the M1 motorway.
Colgan was given an absolute discharge by Leicester Magistrates’ in January
1999 after an RSPCA case and 16 convictions under the 1911 Protection
of Animals Act. She was ordered to pay £2,000 costs.
Three months later the Kennel Club then applied its ‘catch all’ rule A43
as a result of the case and banned her from the use of KC registration
and competition for a period of five years.
his decision Mr. Justice Cooke, said: “In my judgment the disciplinary
rulings made by the Kennel Club General Committee were not unlawful by
reason of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, nor did the review or failure
to review fall foul of that statute.
penalties imposed was however, disproportionate and Mrs Colgan is entitled
to a declaration to that effect”.
Mr Justice Cooke added: “No claim for damages will lie against the Kennel
Club in relation to the disciplinary decisions taken”.
had described the Kennel Club as “the well known organisation which regulates
and supervises the breeding and showing of dogs in the UK.
“It’s activities include the classification of breeds, the registration
of pedigrees, transfers of registrations to new owners, the licensing
of dog shows, the framing and enforcement of Kennel Club rules, the awarding
of Challenge, Champion and other certificates, the registration of canine
associations, clubs and societies and the publication of an annual Stud
Book and the monthly Kennel Gazette”.
such, the court had been told, the five year ban had the effect of worldwide
ramifications with the US applying a reciprocal arrangement over suspensions.
Monday a KC press release commented on the case saying: “The Kennel Club
can confirm that judgement has now been given in the case of Mrs Phyllis
Colgan v The Kennel Club. The court action arose as a result of the Rule
A43 decision to suspend Mrs Colgan for a period of 5 years from all canine
activities from 20 April 1999.
Justice Cooke held that the penalty imposed by The Kennel Club on the
claimant was disproportionate and that Mrs Colgan is entitled to a declaration
to that effect. However, the judge also ruled that the claimant was not
entitled to damages, accepting The Kennel Club’s submissions on this point.
The judge’s preliminary view on costs is that The Kennel Club should pay
two thirds of the Claimant’s costs, but this is subject to further submissions
to be made by both parties.
in his judgement, Mr Justice Cooke made specific mention of the fact that
he found nothing wrong with the A43 procedure and he found no fault on
the part of The Kennel Club with regard to the decision-making process.
In the judgement, Mr Justice Cooke’s remarks included:
“There was nothing unfair about the procedures adopted when they are taken
as a whole”
“There were no real disputed issues of fact and the essence of the offence
and the defence to it were transparently clear from the materials which
the General Committee received. No oral hearing was therefore needed for
the committee to proceed fairly”
“Nor could Mr French’s (Kennel Club CEO) Brief be described as unfair
when taken as a whole”
“ Nor is there anything in the point as to the lack of independence of
seems that the judgement is based on the fact that, compared to the Magistrates’
sentence, the penalties imposed by The Kennel Club were felt by the judge
to be excessive. Mr Justice Cooke stated that: “The minutes of the meeting
of the General Committee show that they had regard to the essential feature
of the offence and do not reveal any misunderstanding or error of principle
in the approach taken. Nonetheless, the disparity between the magistrates’
sentence of absolute discharge and the General Committee’s imposition
of five year penalties is acute.
judge found that a reasonable penalty would be a three year ban in respect
of registration and a two year ban in relation to other canine activities.
Kennel Club is now considering the judgement carefully in consultation
with its legal advisers as to whether any further action is required”.
Colgan provided the following statement for publication:-
1999 the Courts in England granted me an Absolute Discharge following
the tragic accident that occurred in 1998.
have always felt that the actions of the KC were unfair and wholly disproportionate
to the wrongdoing of which I had been accused and I have had to come back
to the High Court to correct the KC’s unfair and unjust ban. This has
been a most stressful and daunting task.
High Court has totally vindicated my position by ruling that the penalties
imposed by the KC were “manifestly excessive and disproportionate” and
I am delighted with that decision. The effect of the judge’s decision
that I will now be able to return to my career in the world of dogs.
“I would like to thank the many friends and others that have given me
their support during this very painful period of my life.
judge described press comment following the accident as unbalanced, if
not inaccurate and he further found that much of it was sensationalist
in approach and focused on my domestic circumstances.
sincerely hope that those who have been unfairly influenced in the past
by the unbalanced, inaccurate and sensationalist media coverage now review
the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident with a more rational
eye and do not judge me in quite the same way and allow me to rebuild
my life. Nothing can compensate for the tragic loss of my beloved dogs
but I can now look to the future”.
In her response to the KC press statement Mrs Colgan said:
KC in reporting the High Court ruling whilst acknowledging that the court
had ruled that the penalty imposed upon me was “disproportionate” seemed
to have overlooked the court’s full statement that their ban was ‘Manifestly
excessive and disproportionate”.
KC has pointed out that the High Court ruled that my request for damages
had been denied.
the KC has not emphasised is that the High Court ruled that following
the rules of case precedent the judge stated that the KC were not contractually
obliged to reach a correct decision and damages could not flow from any
wrongful decision on the part of the KC.
overturning the KC ban the judge ruled that the decision of the General
Committee of the KC decision was indeed “wrongful”.
KC has quoted that the judge found nothing wrong with the A43 procedure
and he found no fault on the part of the KC with the decision making process,
but the fact is that he found that the procedure and the process still
led to a decision that the judge ruled as “manifestly excessive and disproportionate”.
major factor which I believe did not emerge because of the refusal by
the KC to disclose a range of documents and their claim that they had
lost files, was the influence that was exerted upon members of the committee
and others to apply the ban.
General Committee of the KC was presented with a dossier containing approximately
150 press cuttings which the judge described as “some of which was unbalanced,
if not inaccurate. Equally, much of it was sensationalist in approach
and focused upon my domestic circumstances...
opinion is that whilst the A43 procedure and decision making process may
have nothing wrong or contain no faults, the fact remains that the committee
relied upon, amongst other things, the dossier presented to it containing
the press, cuttings and other undisclosed letters and based upon that
material arrived at a ‘wrongful decision”.
Mrs Phyllis Colgan looks forward to returning to the show ring and, commenting
on various questions, said that there are owners of Karazan dogs who want
me to show their dogs in England and would like it to happen as soon as
possible. She said she had already received congratulatory messages from
people, particularly in other breeds, who cannot wait to see me back in
the Newfoundland show ring. She said there was much to be done to rebuild
the Karazan gene pool and she is inviting old friends and new to get in
touch with her at NewfoundlandsCA@aol.com
if they wish to be a part of achieving this priority objective.
Mrs Colgan’s stated objective is to “build on the International reputation
of Karazan which has in the past successfully exported Champions to all
parts of the world”.
pointed out that there are a number of Karazan and Angelhouse dogs in
the USA which are mainly owned by her friend Alan Parker.
her move to the USA she has only been able to spectate at shows and the
AKC, because of a reciprocal agreement with the KC were obliged to suspend
her privileges in the USA.
AKC has asked her to notify them immediately that the UK ban was lifted
and she is in the process of dealing with this matter commenting on judging
appointments, she said she has already received a tentative enquiry in
respect of her willingness to judge at certain forthcoming American shows.
far as pursuing any damages claim; she said she has yet to discuss this
with her solicitors. The Kennel Club denied her requests to provide many
documents for use in the first part of the case as they claimed such documents
related to the damages part of the case which she was informed would be
the second stage and would be heard later.
the KC claims to have ‘lost’ files containing letters placed before the
General Committee when they imposed their unfair ban.
case has allegedly cost the Kennel Club over £100,000 and the outcome
may well have an impact on Kennel Club ‘A’ regulations.