Category: Article 5 | Right to Liberty


Unlawful mental health detention – who is to blame?

20 January 2011 by

TTM (By his Litigation Friend TM) v London Borough of Hackney, East London NHS Foundation Trust; Secretary of State for Health –  Read judgment

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the local authority, but not the detaining hospital, was liable to pay compensation to a person who had been unlawfully detained under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act  1983.  The case provides important guidance on the liability of mental health and medical professionals in the difficult area of detaining patients, as well as the ability to recover damages where a claimant is unlawfully detained.

The Court held that the patient’s detention had been unlawful from the start when the approved mental health professional [‘AMHP’] erred in whether the patient’s relative objected to admission.  The local authority responsible for the AMHP could not rely on the Section 139(1)of the Mental Health Act 1983 [‘the Act’] statutory protection from civil liability, which had to be read down by virtue of Section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998 to give effect to the patient’s right to liberty under Article 5 of the ECHR.

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Can release from hospital be a deprivation of liberty?

19 January 2011 by

Secretary of State for Justice v RB [2010] UKUT 454 – Read judgment

In a fascinating recent case, the Upper Tribunal has departed from a line of court authority to decide that where a patient has been detained under the Mental Health Act 1983, conditionally discharging that patient from hospital subject to conditions which might themselves amount to a form of detention is compatible with Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the right to liberty .

RB, who was aged 75, had been detained under the Mental Health Act on 30 June 1999 following a conviction for indecent assault on a boy aged under 16. He suffered from a persistent delusional disorder, which rendered him a “strongly misogynistic”, lifelong paedophile.

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Child detention: More smoke and mirrors

13 January 2011 by

R (on the application of) Reetha Suppiah and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Interveners [2011] EWHC 2 (Admin) – Read judgment

A high court judge has ruled that two asylum seekers and their children were unlawfully detained at Yarl’s Wood immigration centre last year.

This ruling will add fuel to the flames of the debate over whether the government is truly committed to ending the detention of children in immigration centres, or whether they intend merely to “minimise” it.

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Control orders: what are they and why do they matter?

6 January 2011 by

Updated | The government is soon to reveal the future of control orders, controversial anti-terrorism measure which have been repeatedly found by the courts to infringe human rights. But what are they? And why have they caused such trouble since they were introduced?

What are control orders?

Control orders are an anti-terrorism power which allows the secretary of state to impose strict conditions on a terrorist suspect (the ‘controlee’).

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Please release me

24 December 2010 by

Stellato v Ministry of Justice  [2010] EWCA Civ 1435 – Read judgment

The court of appeal has ruled that when a court set a deadline for a prisoner’s release, that deadline could was not lawfully extended simply because a court needed time to hear an appeal against the decision to release him.

In other words, prisoners must be released on time unless a court explicitly rules otherwise. Absent such a ruling, any additional time spent in custody waiting for a hearing will be unlawful detention and could trigger damages.

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Unjustified Delay in Parole Hearing Breached Prisoner’s Human Rights

21 December 2010 by

R (on the application of Daniel Faulkner) v Secretary of State for Justice and Anor [2010] EWCA Civ 1434 – Read Judgment

The Court of Appeal has upheld the appeal of prisoner who spent 10 more months in prison than he should have, due to unjustified delay in having his case heard by the Parole Board. The court found that there had been an infringement of his rights under Article 5(4) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

In 2001 Daniel Faulkner was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent (an offence under section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861). As this was his second offence of this nature, he was sentenced to custody for life, with the minimum period he had to spend in custody being set at two years, eight and a half months. That period expired on 18th April 2004 and he became eligible for parole.

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Detaining and deporting the mentally ill

26 October 2010 by

Anam v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWCA Civ 1140 – Read judgment

This appeal raises interesting questions about the approach the courts should take when considering whether detention pending deportation is legal in a case involving an ex-convict with serious psychiatric illness. A failure to implement a Home Office policy on the subject did not automatically make the decision to detain unlawful. However, the Court of Appeal was not unanimous on what the correct test for legality was.

This was an appeal against a deportation decision by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The Appellant had a long criminal record and in 2007 was sentenced to 4 years in prison for robbery. Later that year, the deportation decision was made. However, the Appellant also had a history of serious psychiatric illness.

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Human rights and judicial review in the past year – Part 2/4: Articles 3 and 5

22 October 2010 by

This post is adapted from a presentation given at the Justice Human Rights Law Conference, and will be split into four parts. Part 1 can be found here.

Today I concentrate on Article 3: inhuman and degrading treatment (click here for previous posts on Article 3).

A range of cases – as ever, mostly arising in the context of immigration, extradition, and prisons – have been decided in the last year, but most are fact-specific, and few have given rise to particularly significant developments of principle.

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Pre-trial detention after expiry of the custody limit does not breach right to liberty

7 October 2010 by

Kevin O’Dowd v UK (application no. 7390/07) [2010] ECHR 1324 (21 September 2010)Read judgment

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a man’s pre-trial detention did not breach his right to liberty. Mr O’Dowd, who had a previous conviction for rape, was denied bail despite the maximum custody time limit having expired.

Kevin O’Dowd was charged with rape, false imprisonment and indecent assault in early December 2001. He had a prior conviction for rape which brought him within the provisions of Section 25 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (“the 1994 Act”) that bail should only be granted if there are exceptional circumstances justifying it.

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Increasing prison numbers could save money, says report

31 August 2010 by

A new report from the think-tank Civitas argues that increasing community sentences and cutting prison numbers will lead to more crime and add to costs too.

This is contrary to the the view of the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, who has argued recently that there is no link between the rising level of imprisonment and falling crime.

The report, Prison, Community Sentencing and Crime, is by Ken Pease, a professor at the Manchester Business School and a former Home Office criminologist. It does not present any significant new research; rather, it seeks to put the other side of the debate on prison numbers, in light of the “apparently concerted attempt to justify an increasing use of community sanctions in place of custody for convicted criminals”.

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The ripple effect from Guantanamo Bay to the English courts

23 August 2010 by

Review: The Ripple Effect: Guantanamo Bay in the United Kingdom Courts” by CRG Murray, International Law Review Online Companion, April 2010 – Read article

A new academic article by C.R.G Murray at Newcastle University analyses the interesting and important line of case-law arising from claims by men detained in Guantanamo Bay. The case-law has involved many issues of a politically sensitive nature and generated much media coverage and pressure on the British Government. The ripple effects from the detentions have led to a series of important judgments.

Murray’s article reviews important case-law arising from detention at Guantanamo Bay and the impact it has had on the decisions reached by the courts. Murray concludes that the case-law demonstrates two major ‘ripple effects’: (1) judicial review has been used to press the British Government into being more active in opposing detentions at Guantanamo Bay; (2) where serious human rights breaches are in issue, the courts have been more willing to disregard historic concepts of comity between courts in different jurisdictions and give their own view of the correct interpretation of law for the benefit of appellate courts in the United States.

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Terror law reviewers seeking consultation [updated]

19 August 2010 by

The new government is currently undertaking a review of anti-terrorism legislation, and Liberty, the human rights organisation, have been asked to contribute.

Update: The full Liberty response, ‘From War to Law’ can be downloaded here.

The response is predictable, which is unsurprising given how much time and effort the organisation has put into speaking out against New Labour’s more controversial anti-terror policies. Control orders, 28 day detention without charge, the use of wide stop and search powers (currently suspended anyway) and surveillance powers are all mentioned.

More interesting are the organisation’s comments on proposals to ban non-violent groups promoting hatred. This would, say Liberty, be a step too far and would risk “including innumerable organisations, potentially including political and religious bodies.”


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Human rights universal jurisdiction arrest law to change [updated]

23 July 2010 by

Tsipi Livni - she can come back now

The Ministry of Justice is proposing to change the rules on who can apply for international arrest warrants for suspected war crimes. The changes will make it necessary to get the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before an arrest warrant can be granted.

The present system means that the threshold for an arrest for war crimes is low, and as such visiting ex-ministers can be arrested if only limited (or “flimsy” as the MoJ puts it) proof of the alleged crime is presented to a magistrate. The highest profile cases have been those involving ex-ministers from Israel, and in particular Tsipi Livni. As a result of the threat of arrest warrants, Israeli ex-ministers have largely stayed away from the UK.

As the MoJ statement says, war crimes under the Geneva Conventions Act 1957, and a small number of other grave offences, are subject to universal jurisdiction. This enables prosecution to take place here even though the offence was committed outside the United Kingdom, and irrespective of nationality.

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Deprivation of liberty best interests test compatible with human rights law [updated]

23 July 2010 by

G v E and others [2010] EWCA Civ 822 – Read judgment

This post was written with the kind help of Jaime Lindsey

The Court of Appeal has held that a person who lacks mental capacity can be detained if the Court of Protection considers that it is in their best interests, without having to meet additional conditions under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

This case was a challenge to the decision of Jonathan Baker J in the Court of Protection and raises issues about the relationship between ECHR Article 5 (right to liberty and security) and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA). It reinforces the point that it is for the Court to decide what is in an incapacitated patient’s best interests, and that Article 5 imposes no further requirements.

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Opening of secret evidence rules not limited to terrorism cases

22 July 2010 by

A (A Child) v The Chief Constable of Dorset Police [2010] EWHC 1748 (Admin) (16 July 2010) – Read judgment

The High Court has ruled that the gist of sensitive evidence in a case involving a child being picked up for being spotted with an “inappropriate adult” must be disclosed in order that the child can bring a claim against the police.

The case is probably the first to follow the significant restriction of the use of secret evidence resulting from the Al Rawi decision (see our previous post), in which the Court of Appeal rejected a request by the Government that evidence in a torture compensation claim be kept secret from the public, and emphasised that the interests of open justice would be seriously compromised if this kind of request were ever granted in a civil case, even in very limited circumstances.

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