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||Neutral Citation Number:  EWCA Civ 1033
||Case No: C1/2014/4283
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE,
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION, ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
Mrs Justice Laing
||Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE JACKSON
LORD JUSTICE McCOMBE
|| REGINA ( on the application of Matthew BROOKS)
||- and –
||THE INDEPENDENT ADJUDICATOR
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR JUSTICE
Simon P G Murray (instructed by the Government Legal Department) for the Interested Party/Appellant
Caoilfhionn Gallagher (instructed by The Howard League for Penal Reform) for the Claimant/Respondent
The Defendant did not appear and was not represented.
Hearing date: 13 October 2016
HTML VERSION OF JUDGMENT
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice McCombe:
- This is an appeal by the Secretary of State for Justice from the order of Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing of 3 November 2014 whereby the judge declared that the detention of the claimant for a period of 11 days following the expiry of the custodial element of a sentence imposed upon him in the Crown Court was a breach of his rights protected by Article 5(1) of European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) and was entitled to damages as just satisfaction for that breach. Subject to the present appeal, damages have been agreed between the parties at £1000. The Secretary of State did not pursue any appeal before us as to an award of damages, as "just satisfaction", subject to liability.
- At the relevant times the claimant was detained in a Young Offender Institution (YOI) pursuant to an extended sentence imposed in January 2011 pursuant to section 228 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The effect of the sentence was that the claimant was to serve a five year custodial term to be followed by a period of extended licence for another five years. Pursuant to section 247(2) of the same Act, in the normal course, the Interested Party, the Secretary of State for Justice, was under a duty to release the claimant once he had served half of the custodial part of the sentence imposed in the Crown Court. Thereafter, the claimant would remain subject to licence until the expiry of the total extended sentence. In this judgment, I shall refer to the provisions of the 2003 Act as they stood at the times relevant to this case, without further reference to the changes made from 2 December 2012.
- We were informed by counsel that, after crediting periods on remand, the claimant's release date, under the sentence as passed by the Crown Court, would have been 23 April 2012. He was not released in fact until 4 May 2012. This was because of an "award" of 14 "additional days" detention imposed following a finding that he was guilty of an offence against discipline. The alleged offence arose as follows.
- On 2 February 2012, the claimant, along with a number of other detainees, became involved in a protest at the YOI which resulted in them being present in an area of the establishment on which they were not authorised to be at the relevant time. It is said that some force had to be used by YOI staff to bring some of them under control. The detainees' presence in the relevant area constituted an offence against discipline under rule 55(20) of the Young Offender Institution Rules 2000, made by the Secretary of State under powers conferred by section 47 of the Prisons Act 1952. Rule 55(20) provides as follows:
"An inmate is guilty of an offence against discipline if he -…
(20) …is present at any place where he is not authorised to be;".
- On the following day, he was charged with the relevant offence against discipline and (pursuant to rule 58A of the Rules) the matter was referred for a hearing before the Defendant, an Independent Adjudicator (IA) which was fixed for 1 March 2012.
- Pursuant to rule 2(1), the "adjudicator" means,
"…a District Judge (Magistrates Courts) or Deputy District Judge (Magistrates Courts) approved by the Lord Chancellor for the purpose of inquiring into a charge which has been referred to him."
The claimant's case (and the cases of the other detainees similarly charged in respect of the incident on 2 February 2012) came before a District Judge accordingly on 1 March 2012.
- It turned out that the particular District Judge to whom these cases were allocated on 1 March had been present at the YOI on 2 February and had been aware of the incident. He had been engaged in hearings on that day which had had to be stopped because a "lock down" was imposed at the establishment while staff sought to deal with the disorder. The judge and the lawyers involved in the cases for that day were taken from the hearing room to the control room at the YOI where there was a CCTV monitor on which some of the incident could be observed. Laing J records in her judgment that the District Judge recalled that, for a period of no more than 10 minutes, he saw on the monitor a group of boys (none of whom he could identify) "milling around"; he did not see any of these boys behaving violently, nor did he become aware of any conversations between officers who were managing the incident. After this, the judge was escorted from the YOI by a back route.
- At the hearing on 1 March 2012, lawyers representing the detainees (including the claimant) applied to the District Judge to recuse himself from dealing with these cases, essentially on the basis that he had been a witness to the incident and its effects and had been aware of the YOI staff's management of it. As confirmed by Ms Gallagher, who appeared for the claimant, the application was based upon an appearance of bias, presumably because the judge himself had been temporarily inconvenienced by the incident. The judge refused the recusal application and the hearings proceeded. Each relevant detainee was dealt with separately. This claimant pleaded guilty and the judge imposed a penalty of an additional 14 days detention.
- The penalty was imposed pursuant to rule 60A(1) which provided at the time:
"If he [the adjudicator] finds an inmate guilty of an offence against discipline the adjudicator may…impose one or more of the following punishments: …
(b) in the case of an inmate who is a short term prisoner or long term prisoner or fixed term prisoner an award of additional days not exceeding 42 days…".
- A claim for judicial review was issued by the claimant (and six others) challenging the findings and the penalty imposed on the basis that the District Judge had been wrong to refuse the application to recuse himself and that the proceedings had accordingly been unfair. By a consent order made by Mr Justice Rabinder Singh, sealed on 18 May 2012, it was ordered that the findings of guilt against all seven claimants and the "awards" of additional days be quashed. The claims for damages were stayed pending negotiations between the parties. The claimant was the only one of the claimants who served the additional days detention.
- The Secretary of State maintained that the detention of the claimant for the additional 11 days, before the making of the consent order, was not unlawful as it was a consequence of the order of 1 March 2012 which was effective and valid in law until quashed. Accordingly, he resisted the claim to damages. That issue came before Laing J in October 2014 and in her judgment of 30 October 2014 she rejected the Secretary of State's arguments. She made the declarations to which I have referred. With little or no opposition from the claimant's counsel, however, she granted permission to the Secretary of State to appeal to this court, stating immediately after delivery of her very careful judgment that the case raised "a very difficult point".
- The Secretary of State appeals on four grounds. It is submitted that (1) the judge erred in holding that the "award" of additional days was void ab initio by virtue of the quashing order; (2) the judge failed correctly to apply the statutory scheme under the 2003 Act, which meant that during the 11 additional days the detention of the claimant was lawful; (3) the judge erred in holding inconsistently with the fact that the IA's award of additional days was a judicial act that that "award" was not a judicial act analogous to a sentence imposed following conviction of a criminal offence; and (4) the judge erred in not treating the "award" of additional days as analogous to a sentence imposed by a criminal court (i.e. that days served prior to the quashing of such a sentence do not become retrospectively unlawful).
- For the claimant it was argued before the judge (successfully) and it is argued again before us that the quashing of the finding of guilt and of the award of additional days meant that the adjudicator's decision was void ab initio and that the detention founded upon it was accordingly unlawful. The claim was based upon an alleged breach of Article 5 of the ECHR, giving rise to a claim under sections 6 and 7 of the Human Rights Act 1998. The judge relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in Lumba v SSHD  UKSC 12 holding that detention in that case, pursuant to decisions that proved to be flawed on public law grounds, was unlawful. So here, it is argued, the "award" of additional days was quashed on the basis of an error of law and was of no effect.
- For the Secretary of State, it is submitted that the statutory sentencing regime under the 2003 Act required that the prison authorities should detain the claimant and that there was no option to release him; detention was obligatory under domestic statute and the detaining authority "could not have acted differently": Human Rights Act 1998 section 6(2)(a). Accordingly, there is no claim available for breach of Article 5 of the ECHR. Mr Murray for the Secretary of State described this submission as his, or perhaps more accurately the Secretary of State's, "Luther Point", derived from Martin Luther's famous statement when invited to recant his views at the Diet of Worms on 18 April 1521: "I stand here. I can do nothing else. God help me!" ("Hier steh' ich. Ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir!").
- Secondly, Mr Murray argues that there was in any event no breach of Article 5 in this case since the claimant was deprived of his liberty "in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law, following lawful detention after conviction by a competent court" (Article 5.1). He had been convicted by a competent court and was sentenced; his detention was lawfully extended by a procedure prescribed by law as a result of that lawful detention. The quashing of the additional days should be treated in parallel with cases where, in criminal proceedings, a sentence is quashed on appeal: see Webster v Lord Chancellor  EWCA Civ 742 at -, following Krzycki v Germany (1978) 13 DR 57 and Benham v UK (1996) 22 EHRR 293.
- Thirdly, Mr Murray argues that, even under domestic public law, the award of additional days was not void ab initio but only negated from the date of the quashing order. The order made by the District Judge had to be complied with by the Secretary of State acting through the prison authorities, until it was quashed. He was not entitled to disobey an order of an apparently lawful authority until informed that the order was no more. This submission depended upon what has been described in this court as an "ill-defined area" of law (per Maurice Kay LJ in R (Shoosmith) v Ofsted  EWCA Civ 642, at ),
"…in which the act of a public authority which is done in good faith on the reasonably assumed legal validity of the act of another public authority, is not ipso facto vitiated by a later finding that the earlier act of another public authority was unlawful…".
Mr Murray referred us in this context (among other materials) to Boddington v British Transport Police  2 AC 143, 164-165 and 172-174, Percy v Hall  QB 924 at 943, 947 and 950-1, Mossell v Office of Utilities Regulations & ors  UKPC 1. This difficult subject is most helpfully summarised in Wade & Forsyth on Administrative Law 11th Edn. (2009) pp. 251 et seq.
- I think that it is convenient to begin by considering Mr Murray's "Luther Point". I have described above the sentence passed upon the claimant in the Crown Court, the first part of which was "the appropriate custodial term" under section 228(2B), in this case 5 years. Section 247, as already noted, provided that once the claimant had served the appropriate custodial term it was "the duty of the Secretary of State to release him". Section 257 of the Act provided, however, that where additional days were "awarded" to a relevant detainee, and are not remitted in accordance with prison rules,
"… (a) any period which he must serve before becoming entitled to…release…
is extended by the aggregate of those additional days".
- Thus, it is argued, statute expressly required the half of the appropriate custodial term to be served before release was not simply half of the term fixed by the Crown Court, but that half as extended under section 257 by the additional days "awarded". The prison governor could do no other than detain the claimant for that extended period: he could do nothing else (c.f. Luther).
- In R v Parole Board, ex p. Smith  UKHL 1 at  Lord Bingham of Cornhill said that,
"…a short-term prisoner who has served half his sentence and a long-term prisoner who has reached his non-parole date have a statutory right to free, a conditional right, but nonetheless a right, breach of which gives an enforceable right of redress".
However, it is submitted for the Secretary of State that there was no such statutory right to be free at the original "half-time" date because of the express provision to the contrary to be found in section 257.
- The effect of section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 means, it is said, that no action lies here for any potential breach of Article 5 of the ECHR because, while section 6(1) provides that,
"(1) It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right",
Section 6(2) provides that,
"(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if –
(a) as the result of one or more provisions of primary legislation, the authority could not have acted differently… ".
Section 7 of the same Act provides that,
"7 – Proceedings
(1) A person who claims that a public authority has acted…in a way which is made unlawful by section 6(1) may –
(a) bring proceedings against the authority under this Act in the appropriate court or tribunal, or
(b) rely on the Convention right or rights concerned in any legal proceedings,
but only if he is…a victim of the unlawful act."
Section 8 then provides that,
"8. Judicial Remedies
(1) In relation to any act…of a public authority which the court finds is…unlawful, it may grant such relief or remedy, or make such other order, within its powers, as it considers just and appropriate….
(6) In this section –
"unlawful" means unlawful under section 6(1)".
- So, it is argued for the Secretary of State that the detention was not unlawful within the meaning of section 6 of the 1998 Act. The claimant is not a victim of any unlawful act for the purposes of section 7 and the court cannot grant him any remedy because it cannot find the detention unlawful within the meaning of section 8. There is, therefore, no cause of action arising under section 6 of the 1998 Act for any breach of Article 5, this being the only claim made in the present proceedings.
- Ms Gallagher's first point in resistance to the appeal on this ground was to point out that section 6(2) had formed no, or no significant part of the argument before Laing J, a point which I understood Mr Murray to acknowledge. However, it was not suggested that this pure point of law was not open to the Secretary of State in this court. Secondly, Miss Gallagher referred to a short passage in the speech of Lord Hoffmann in R (Hooper) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  UKHL 29 at ,  1 WLR 1681 where his Lordship said,
"…the evident purpose of section 6(2) is to preserve the sovereignty of Parliament... If legislation cannot be read compatibly with Convention rights, a public authority is not obliged to subvert the intention of Parliament by treating itself as under a duty to neutralise the effect of the legislation…".
It was submitted that where a provision of primary legislation forced an authority to act in breach of Convention rights, this should lead to a declaration of incompatibility (i.e. under section 4 of the Act). The 2003 Act, as I understood the submission, could not bar a remedy under Article 5 in this case.
- In my judgment, this does not answer Mr Murray's point. No declaration of incompatibility is sought in this case. Moreover, even if such a declaration were sought and was made, it would not entitle the claimant to a remedy in the face of the express legislative provisions, if those provisions have the effect for which Mr Murray contends: see the result before Moses J (as he then was) in Hooper itself.
- Secondly, in answer to Mr Murray, Ms Gallagher argues that the Secretary of State was not bound to detain. His hands were not tied by the statute. The Secretary of State, she argues, held sway over the rule-making power under the Prison Act and was able to give statutory guidance. Reference was made to the review powers and the powers to remit added days in the Prison Service Discipline Procedures (PSI 47/2011). However, it seems to me that the review powers there mentioned were merely commentary upon the provisions under rule 60B of the YOI Rules 2000 for application for review of adjudicator's decisions to the Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate). The remission power referred to was that conferred under rule 64 of the Rules, conferring power to remit punishments on the ground of good behaviour. I am unable to see how that power could assist the claimant here either or relieve the Secretary of State from the duty to detain for the custodial term as extended by section 257.
- Finally, Ms Gallagher maintained the argument that whatever the wording of the statute, such authority that it had conferred was undermined by the quashing order which should be treated as rendering the initial administrative act void ab initio.
- It seems to me, however, that we should not lose sight of the fact that the claimant seeks damages for breach of a Convention right, namely that provided for by Article 5 of the Convention and accordingly the suggested "retroactive" effect of the quashing order should have regard to the Strasbourg jurisprudence concerning such claims in this context. Equally, in this context, there have been many domestic decisions holding that detention pursuant to an order of a court or under statutory powers within the jurisdiction of the authority ordering detention is not an unlawful false imprisonment in English law.
- It seems to be quite clear that the European Court (ECtHR) has consistently rejected claims brought under Article 5 where custody decisions, reached in accordance with a prescribed procedure, have later been reversed on the grounds of legal or factual error. I acknowledge that an IA's decision to "award" additional days is not precisely the same as a sentence imposed by a court after conviction of the original offence. However, it is, in my judgment, of a sufficiently similar nature, for reasons which I shall seek to expand.
- As the parties seemed to agree, the present domestic procedure was revised as a consequence of one or both of the decisions of the ECtHR in Ezeh and Connors v UK (2004) EHRR 1 and Whitfield and others v UK (2005) EHRR 44 in which the domestic jurisdiction for imposing additional days detention on prison governors had failed to pass scrutiny under Article 6 of the ECHR. The result was the provision for hearings before an independent Judge, with procedural safeguards (such as the right to legal representation). The parties were agreed below that the resultant decision was a judicial act. Indeed, the grounds upon which the claimant challenged the Judge's decision were grounds applicable to hearings in judicial proceedings.
- The start of the Strasbourg authorities in this area is the Kryzcki case (supra) (a Commission decision) in which the applicant sought to challenge the revocation of his release from "preventative detention" by the Regional Court (Landgericht) in Baden-Baden on 30 September 1971 which the Court of Appeal in Karlsruhe had found (on June 1972) not to be justified and had therefore quashed as being unlawful. The Commission found that there had been no violation of Article 5.1. This decision of the Commission has been applied in a number of subsequent cases.
- The position was summarised by Leveson P (in a judgment with which Lord Dyson MR and Tomlinson LJ agreed) in Webster's case (supra) as follows (referring to Article 5.1):
"42. This provision has been considered by Strasbourg over the years and is not itself intended to provide compensation for those whose convictions have been quashed on appeal but which had been reached by a lawfully constituted court. In Krzycki v Germany (1978) 13 DR 57, 61 the Commission made it clear:
"Article 5.1(a) does not require a 'lawful conviction' but only speaks of 'lawful detention'. This detention must be ordered 'in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law' as article 5(1) lays down. Consequently the Commission has always refused to consider applications of prisoners who have been convicted and sentenced in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law and who complain that their conviction was based on error of law or fact (Decisions on the admissibility of Applications Nos 458/459, Yearbook 3, pp 222, 232; 1140/61, Coll of 8 December, pp 57, 62)."
"43. The European Court of Human Rights underlined that proposition in Benham v United Kingdom 22 EHRR 293 which concerned the quashed committal of an unrepresented defendant to prison for non-payment of the community charge. Although tests which permitted committal were found not to have been satisfied, the court concluded that there was no breach of article 5.1 because the lawfulness of detention was a matter of national, domestic law.
44. The court went on to adopt the distinction drawn by the House of Lords in In re McC (A Minor)  AC 528 between custody decisions which are, on the one hand, voidable because they are wrong in law by reason of errors within jurisdiction and, on the other hand, those which are void ab initio and ex facie because they are so wrong in law as to be outside or in excess of jurisdiction. These were summarised in the Benham case in this way, at para 25:
"In its judgment [i e that of the House of Lords], a magistrates' court acted in excess of jurisdiction in three circumstances only: (I) if it acted without having jurisdiction over the cause, (2) if it exercised its powers in a procedural manner that involved a gross and obvious irregularity, or (3) if it made an order that had no proper foundation in law because of a failure to observe a statutory condition precedent."
45. The Benham case goes on to make it clear what is meant by lawful detention. It does so in these terms, at para 42:
"A period of detention will in principle be lawful if it is carried out pursuant to a court order. A subsequent finding that the court erred under domestic law in making the order will not necessarily retrospectively affect the validity of the intervening period of detention. For this reason, the Strasbourg organs have consistently refused to uphold applications from persons convicted of criminal offences who complain that their convictions or sentences were found by the appellate courts to have been based on errors of fact or law (see Bozano v France (1986) 9 EHRR 297, para 55, and the Report of the Commission of 9 March 1978 in Krzycki v Germany (1978) 13 DR 57, 60-61)."
- In my judgment, the claimant in this case was detained following conviction in the Crown Court and the consequences of his sentence included the possibility of punishment for breaches of YOI discipline as provided by the rules. The extension period led to further detention ordered in accordance with a judicial procedure prescribed by law, enshrining and requiring compliance with the rules of natural justice and the requirements of Article 6 of the ECHR.
- Consonant with the decisions cited in Webster it would seem to me to be bizarre if this claimant could maintain an action for breach of Article 5 when the applicant in Kryzcki and the claimant in Webster could not.
- The decision taken by the judicial officer in this case was one that was entirely within his jurisdiction. The decision was quashed on grounds of procedural failure, a decision not to recuse himself. Many such applications are made to judges in courts and tribunals every day; some few that are rejected are found to have been wrongly rejected. It would be odd, however, to my mind if an order made by such a judge within his proper jurisdiction in a case of this sort had to be ignored by another public authority, required by statute to comply with it, in the period before an appeal/judicial review application can be brought.
- I would have been content to rely upon the summary of the decision in Re McC given by Leveson P in Webster's case (quoted above), but for Ms Gallagher's submission that the quashing of the additional days in this case, being retrospective in effect, led to the Secretary of State being amenable to an action for false imprisonment, a tort of strict liability, and ipso facto to a claim under Article 5, irrespective of the Strasbourg cases.
- As a result, I think that I should cite the speech of Lord Bridge of Harwich in the McC case (at page 535G - 536F) where he refers to the decision of Lord Coke in the Marshalsea Case (1613) 10 Co. Rep. 68b. Lord Bridge said:
"Consider two extremes of a very wide spectrum. Jurisdiction meant one thing to Lord Coke in 1613 when he said in the Marshalsea Case (1613) 10 Co. Rep. 68b, at p. 76a:
"when a court has jurisdiction of the cause, and, proceeds inverso ordine or erroneously, there the party who sues, or the officer or minister of the court who executes the precept or process of the court, no action lies against them. But when the court has not jurisdiction of the cause, there the whole proceeding is coram non judice, and actions will lie against them without any regard of the precept or process…
The Court of the Marshalsea in that case acted without jurisdiction because, its jurisdiction being limited to members of the King's household, it entertained a suit between two citizens neither of whom was a member of the King's household. Arising out of those proceedings a party arrested "by process of the Marshalsea" could maintain an action for false imprisonment against, inter alios, "the Marshal who directed the execution of the process." This is but an early and perhaps the most quoted example of the application of a principle illustrated by many later cases where the question whether a court or other tribunal of limited jurisdiction has acted without jurisdiction (coram non judice) can be determined by considering whether at the outset of the proceedings that court had jurisdiction to entertain the proceedings at all. So much is implicit in the Lord Coke's phrase "jurisdiction of the cause."
The implication is that if the court had been acting within its jurisdiction in that case there would have been no false imprisonment. Lord Bridge contrasted this case with the excess of jurisdiction found in Anisminic Ltd. v Foreign Compensation Commission  2 AC 147.
- A further passage in the speech of Lord Slynn of Hadley in R v Governor of Brockhill Prison, ex p. Evans  2 AC 19 at 26C-D affirms my impression that the state is entitled to rely on an order of a court or the exercise of statutory powers as a justification for detention of a person.
- It will be recalled that in that case the claimant had been sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The governor of the prison in calculating the claimant's release date had based the calculation on the interpretation of the relevant statutory provision. It was held, however, that that interpretation was wrong; the claimant should have been released some two months earlier and the Court of Appeal awarded her damages accordingly. The decision was affirmed by the House of Lords. Lord Slynn said this (at p. 26C-D):
"It is accepted that false imprisonment is a tort of strict liability equally clearly deprivation of liberty may be shown to be lawful or justified. It may be so for example where it is pursuant to an order of court or pursuant to the exercise of statutory powers." (Italics added).
In that case, the governor had misconstrued the relevant statutory provisions, albeit in accordance with existing case authority. He was not acting pursuant to the court order or complying with any other order or direction made in exercise of statutory powers.
- Here there may not have been an order of a court. However, there had been a direction made by the defendant "pursuant to the exercise of statutory powers", and within the IA's jurisdiction, which led to the governor detaining the claimant for the extra 11 days. It seems to me that the Secretary of State, through the governor, not only could, but was obliged to, rely upon the direction made by the defendant IA until such time as the court ordered otherwise.
- In the circumstances, in my judgment, we should accept Mr Murray's first and second submissions on behalf of the Secretary of State and allow the appeal accordingly. As he points out, this renders a decision on his third point: "the ill-defined area of the law" unnecessary. I would add, however, that I was attracted by that third submission, having as it does the support of a number of powerful obiter dicta of a number of distinguished judges and opinions of authors. Had my decision in this case depended upon giving effect to such dicta, I would have been inclined to do so. I feel confident that one day, which is not this day, the "Second Actor Theory" (Wade & Forsyth Op. et Loc. Cit.) will be duly vindicated.
- For the reasons given, I would allow this appeal.
Lord Justice Jackson:
- I agree.
Note 1 We were informed that he served only 11 rather than 14 additional days, as his release would otherwise have fallen upon a bank holiday weekend. [Back]
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