Olutu v Home Office: CA 29 Nov 1996

The claimant said that she had been detained in excess of the period allowed under the 1987 Regulations, and that that detention was unlawful. She now appealed against the striking out of her claim.
Held: Her action failed. The availablility of a remedy by way of judicial review for a breach of statutory duty is a strong indicator that a private law action for damages will not lie for the breach.
The Human Rights Convention could not be applied here: ‘there was in this case no ambiguity, no obscurity and no absurdity in the statutory provisions, and there was accordingly no ground upon which recourse could be had to the Convention.’
As to the claim against the CPS: ‘There is nothing in the l985 Act or in the 1987 Regulations to suggest that either Parliament or the Secretary of State foresaw the present, very unhappy, conjunction of events: failure to arraign the plaintiff before expiry of 112 days; failure by the CPS to perform its duty under Regulation 6; and failure by the plaintiff to seek release. It cannot in my opinion have been intended to confer a private law right of action for damages in such circumstances.’
Lord Bingham said: ‘The plaintiff was in the custody of the Crown Court. Only by order of the court could that period of custody be brought to an end. Once the custody time limit had expired without extension, the Crown Court would have been obliged to order the release of the plaintiff, but such release would have been on bail and the Crown Court could have imposed terms with which the plaintiff would have been obliged to comply after release. Once the custody time limit had expired, the plaintiff was in my view unlawfully detained, and an order which would have led to her release could have been obtained either from the Crown Court or from the Divisional Court; but it does not follow that in the absence of any such order the Governor was guilty of falsely imprisoning the plaintiff and in my view he was neither entitled nor bound to release her.’

Lord Bingham of Cornhill LCJ, Auld, Mummery LJJ
[1997] 1 WLR 328, [1996] EWCA Civ 1070, [1997] 1 All ER 385
Prosecution of Offences (Custody Time Limits) Regulations 1987, Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 63, Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 22, European Convention on Human Rights 5
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Maidstone Crown Court Ex Parte Clark QBD 19-Dec-1994
The judge was wrong to insist on the defendant entering a ‘holding plea’ at an arraignment where this was intended only to circumvent the custody time limits.
Glidewell LJ set out the applicable legislation and summarised its effect: ‘Put . .
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 . .
CitedX (Minors) v Bedfordshire County Council; M (A Minor) and Another v Newham London Borough Council; Etc HL 29-Jun-1995
Liability in Damages on Statute Breach to be Clear
Damages were to be awarded against a Local Authority for breach of statutory duty in a care case only if the statute was clear that damages were capable of being awarded. in the ordinary case a breach of statutory duty does not, by itself, give rise . .
CitedElguzouli-Daf v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and Another CA 16-Nov-1994
The Court upheld decisions striking out actions for negligence brought by claimants who had been arrested and held in custody during criminal investigations which were later discontinued. The Crown Prosecution Service owes no general duty of care to . .

Cited by:
CitedCullen v Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (Northern Ireland) HL 10-Jul-2003
The claimant had been arrested. He had been refused access to a solicitor whilst detaiined, but, in breach of statutory duty, he had not been given reasons as to why access was denied. He sought damages for that failure.
Held: If damages were . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Administrative, Prisons, Human Rights

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.184496