Bourgass and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice: SC 29 Jul 2015

The Court considered the procedures when a prisoner is kept in solitary confinement, otherwise described as ‘segregation’ or ‘removal from association’, and principally whether decisions to keep the appellants in segregation for substantial periods were taken lawfully.
Held: The segregation was not authorised by the applicable legislation: ‘rule 45 . . (1) enables the governor to ‘arrange’ for the prisoner’s removal from association. Paragraph (2) provides that a prisoner shall not be removed under the rule for a period of more than 72 hours ‘without the authority of the Secretary of State’, and that ‘authority given under this paragraph shall be for a period not exceeding 14 days’. Authority is therefore given under rule 45(2) by the Secretary of State to the governor, the governor having already formed the view that continued segregation is desirable. That provision cannot sensibly be construed either as enabling the governor to give authority to himself, or as enabling authority to be given to him by a subordinate officer.’ and ‘ it is implicit in rule 45(2) that the decision of the Secretary of State cannot be taken on his behalf by the governor, or by some other officer of the prison in question.’


Lord Neuberger, President, Lady Hale, Deputy President, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Hodge


[2015] UKSC 54, [2015] 3 WLR 457, [2016] AC 384, UKSC 2013/0230


Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary


European Convention on Human Rights 6, Prison Rules 1999 45(1)


England and Wales


At first InstanceBourgass and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice Admn 18-Feb-2011
The prisoner claimants each challenged the way that decisions had been taken which had led to their being held in segregation units. They said the procedures were unfair.
Held: The applications were dismissed. Article 3 was not engaged. . .
Appeal fromKing, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice CA 27-Mar-2012
In each case the prisoners challenged their transfer to cellular confinement or segregation within prison or YOI, saying that the transfers infringed their rights under Article 6, saying that domestic law, either in itself or in conjunction with . .
CitedCarltona Ltd v Commissioners of Works CA 1943
Ministers May Act through Civil Servants
The plaintiffs owned a factory which was to be requisitioned. They sought a judicial review of the lawfulness of the order making the requisition, saying that the 1939 Regulations had been implemented not by the Minister as required, but by an . .
CitedLewisham Borough Council v Roberts CA 1949
The council sought to exercise its powers under the Act to take possession of part of the defendant’s property.
Held: Denning LJ said: ‘It is necessary to consider the nature of the power to requisition land. It is only a power to take . .
CitedCastle v Crown Prosecution Service Admn 24-Jan-2014
The defendant appealed from his conviction for having driven in excess of a variable speed limit on the motorway. He said that the Order under which the speed limit had been imposed was irregular. . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Oladehinde HL 18-Oct-1990
A decision at Senior Executive Officer level was accepted as appropriate in a deportation case. There was an express form of delegation, and acts of the immigration officers required to be regarded as the acts of the Home Secretary.
Lord . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Social Security ex parte Sherwin (a Patient By Her Next Friend Sherwin) Admn 16-Feb-1996
An official in the Benefits Agency, part of the Department of Health and Social Security, suspended an income support/severe disability premium payable to the appellant. The court was asked whether the decision of the Agency, made under the . .
CitedSecretary of State for the Home Department v SP CA 21-Dec-2004
The applcant, a girl aged 17 was in a young offender institution. She complained that she had been removed to segregation without first giving her chance to be heard. The respondent argued that there were sufficient post decision safeguards to . .
CitedPayne v Lord Harris of Greewich CA 1981
A prisoner sought a declaration that he was entitled to be given the reasons for refusing him parole so that he could make representations in rebuttal.
Held: The declaration was refused.
Lord Denning MR said: ‘No doubt it is the duty of . .
CitedRegina v Governor of Brixton Prison, Ex parte Walsh HL 1984
Walsh faced two sets of charges. In one of which he was bailed and in the other he was remanded in custody. The Governor of the prison refused to produce him to the court for the purpose of facing the bailed proceedings.
Held: Habeas corpus . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Ex parte Hickling CA 1986
Rules enabled the Secretary of State to permit a woman prisoner to have her baby with her in prison, subject to any conditions he thought fit. The Secretary of State had issued a general instruction laying down criteria for admission to a mother and . .
CitedLeech v Governor of Parkhurst Prison HL 1988
The House was asked whether a disciplinary decision by a governor was amenable to judicial review.
Held: The functions of a governor adjudicating upon disciplinary charges are separate and distinct from his functions in running the prison; . .
CitedRegina v Deputy Governor of Parkhurst Prison, Ex parte Hague CA 5-Jun-1990
A decision to segregate a prisoner under rule 43 is to be made by the governor of the prison where he is held. Taylor LJ said: ‘Apart from the urgency of decisions under r 43, there may well be other public policy grounds for not giving reasons in . .
CitedRegina v Deputy Governor of Parkhurst Prison, Ex parte Hague, Weldon v Home Office HL 24-Jul-1991
The prisoner challenged the decision to place him in segregation under Prison Rule 43. Under rule 43(1) the initial power to segregate was given to ‘the governor’. The case arose from the fact that the governor of one prison had purported to . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Doody and Others HL 25-Jun-1993
A mandatory lifer is to be permitted to suggest the period of actual sentence to be served. The Home Secretary must give reasons for refusing a lifer’s release. What fairness requires in any particular case is ‘essentially an intuitive judgment’, . .
CitedGanci v Italie ECHR 30-Oct-2003
The applicant was serving two life sentences for Mafia related activities. He challenged nine decrees issued by the Minister of Justice under which he was held under a special prison regime for a period of four years. His case related to delays by . .
CitedTsfayo v The United Kingdom ECHR 14-Nov-2006
The applicant challenged the prodecures for deciding her appeal against the council’s refusal to pay backdated housing benefits. She complained that the availability of judicial review of the decision was not adequate.
Held: The system did not . .
CitedSomerville v Scottish Ministers HL 24-Oct-2007
The claimants complained of their segregation while in prison. Several preliminary questions were to be decided: whether damages might be payable for breach of a Convention Right; wheher the act of a prison governor was the act of the executive; . .
CitedGulmez v Turkey ECHR 20-May-2008
The applicant complained inter alia of successive decisions which had deprived him of visitation rights for about a year as punishment for disciplinary offences whilst in prison.
Held: ‘the restriction on the applicant’s visiting rights . .
CitedEnea v Italy ECHR 17-Sep-2009
(Grand Chamber) The applicant, a prisoner serving a long sentence for Mafia-type criminal offences, was subjected to a special regime by ministerial decrees. The restrictions included not only very limited family visits but also a long period . .
CitedOsborn v The Parole Board SC 9-Oct-2013
Three prisoners raised questions as to the circumstances in which the Parole Board is required to hold an oral hearing before making an adverse decision. One of the appeals (Osborn) concerned a determinate sentence prisoner who was released on . .
CitedCastle v Crown Prosecution Service Admn 24-Jan-2014
The defendant appealed from his conviction for having driven in excess of a variable speed limit on the motorway. He said that the Order under which the speed limit had been imposed was irregular. . .
CitedRaymond v Honey HL 4-Mar-1981
The defendant prison governor had intercepted a prisoner’s letter to the Crown Office for the purpose of raising proceedings to have the governor committed for an alleged contempt of court.
Held: The governor was in contempt of court. Subject . .
CitedRegina (Holding and Barnes plc) v Secretary of State for Environment Transport and the Regions; Regina (Alconbury Developments Ltd and Others) v Same and Others HL 9-May-2001
Power to call in is administrative in nature
The powers of the Secretary of State to call in a planning application for his decision, and certain other planning powers, were essentially an administrative power, and not a judicial one, and therefore it was not a breach of the applicants’ rights . .
CitedPham v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 25-Mar-2015
The court was asked: ‘whether the Secretary of State was precluded under the British Nationality Act 1981 from making an order depriving the appellant of British citizenship because to do so would render him stateless. This turns on whether (within . .
CitedBoulois v Luxembourg ECHR 3-Apr-2012
(Grand Chamber) The claimant complained that as a prisoner he had been deprived of his right to a fair hearing and his right of access to a court in connection with the decisions refusing his requests for prison leave.
Held: The complaint was . .
CitedRegina (Daly) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 23-May-2001
A prison policy requiring prisoners not to be present when their property was searched and their mail was examined was unlawful. The policy had been introduced after failures in search procedures where officers had been intimidated by the presence . .
CitedA, Regina (on the Application of) v London Borough of Croydon SC 26-Nov-2009
The applicants sought asylum, and, saying that they were children under eighteen, sought also the assistance of the local authority. Social workers judged them to be over eighteen and assistance was declined.
Held: The claimants’ appeals . .
CitedTomlinson and Others v Birmingham City Council SC 17-Feb-2010
The appellant asked whether the statutory review of a housing authority’s decision on whether he was intentionally homeless was a determination of a civil right, and if so whether the review was of the appropriate standard. The claimant said that . .

Cited by:

CitedShahid v Scottish Ministers (Scotland) SC 14-Oct-2015
The appellant convicted of a racially-aggravated vicious murder. Since conviction he had spent almost five years in segregation from other prisoners. The appellant now alleged that some very substantial periods of segregation had been in breach of . .
CitedPoshteh v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea SC 10-May-2017
The appellant, applying for housing as a homeless person, had rejected the final property offered on the basis that its resemblance to the conditions of incarceration in Iran, from which she had fled, would continue and indeed the mental . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Prisons, Human Rights, Constitutional

Updated: 03 August 2022; Ref: scu.550793