Practice and Procedure

R (On the application of P) v SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (2003)

PUBLISHED December 24, 2003

The fact that, on the expiry of his tariff, a discretionary life prisoner had no right to apply to the Parole Board and remained liable to detention as a lifer unless and until a mental health review board made a decision in his favour, did not infringe his rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 Sch.1 Part I Art.5(4). There was no requirement for mandatory joint hearings of mental health review tribunals and Discretionary Lifer Panels of the Parole Board.The claimant (P) sought a declaration that Criminal Justice Act 1991 s.34 breached the Human Rights Act 1998 Sch.1 Part I Art.5(4) and an award of damages for the distress he had suffered as a result of the infringement of his right to liberty and security. P was a discretionary life prisoner following convictions for offences of rape and manslaughter. His 10 year tariff having expired, he had the right to have his case reviewed by the Discretionary Lifer Panel of the parole board pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act 1991 s.34, but only after a mental health review tribunal had decided in his favour. P had the right to apply to the tribunal once a year. P argued, inter alia, that: (1) s.34 of the 1991 Act breached the Human Rights Act 1998 Sch.1 Part I Art.5(4) which required a single tribunal to determine the lawfulness of detention; and (2) separate hearings necessarily resulted in a failure to provide the speedy review required by Art.5(4), 24 weeks being the delay normally arising between the tribunal and the parole board hearings.HELD: (1) On the question of a single tribunal, provided there was no undue delay in the review of the lawfulness of the detenton, or other infringement of a convention right, there was no reason to require that the same court determine both heads of detention (X v United Kingdom (Unreported, November 5,1981), [1982] C.L.Y. 1483 applied). In applications by a restricted patient a mental health review tribunal and the parole board served very different purposes. A tribunal was only concerned with risk due to mental disorder, but must consider risk to both the detained person and to other persons. On the other hand, the parole board was concerned with risk to persons other than the prisoner and irrespective of the cause of the risk. A joint hearing would, in some cases, be asked to assess similar issues, but there would be cases in which the issues would be very different. (2) There was not necessarily any breach of the requirement of a speedy hearing caused by successive hearings by a mental health review tribunal and a Discretionary Lifer Panel. Whether the delay was acceptable had to be determined on the facts of each case.Declaration granted in favour of defendant.

[2003] EWHC 2953 (Admin)