O’Reilly v Mackman: HL 1982

Remission of Sentence is a Privilege not a Right

The plaintiffs had begun their action, to challenge their loss of remission as prisoners, by means of a writ, rather than by an action for judicial review, and so had sidestepped the requirement for the action to be brought within strict time limits.
Held: The forfeiture of remission for a prisoner was, as a matter of law, not a loss of liberty but a loss of a privilege, the loss of right protected by public law. Any proceedings to enforce a public duty should not be by way of ordinary action.
Lord Diplock said: ‘it would in my view as a general rule be contrary to public policy, and as such an abuse of the process of the court, to permit a person seeking to establish that a decision of a public authority infringed rights to which he was entitled to protection under public law to proceed by way of an ordinary action and by this means to evade the provisions of Order 53 for the protection of such authorities . . I have described this as a general rule; for though it may normally be appropriate to apply it by the summary process of striking out the action, there may be exceptions, particularly where the invalidity of the decision arises as a collateral issue in a claim for infringement of a right of the plaintiff arising under private law, or where none of the parties objects to the adoption of the procedure by writ or originating summons.’ The purpose of the requirement was to protect the public administration against false, frivolous or tardy challenges to official action: ‘The public interest in good administration requires that public authorities and third parties should not be kept in suspense as to the legal validity of a decision the authority has reached in purported exercise of decision-making powers for any longer period than is absolutely necessary in fairness to the person affected by the decision’. An advantage of O.53 was that the court had an opportunity to exercise its discretion at the outset of the proceedings rather than would have happened at that time in proceedings begun by originating summons at the end of the proceedings. This was an important protection in the interests of good administration and for third parties who may be indirectly affected by the proceedings: ‘Unless such an action can be struck out summarily at the outset as an abuse of the process of the court the whole purpose of the public policy to which the change in O.53 was directed would be defeated.’ Though a respondent should not normally be cross examined as to its affidavit, nevertheless, ‘ . . leave to cross-examination should be granted where the interests of justice so require.’ The grant of leave to cross-examine deponents is goverened by the same principles in applications for judicial review as in actions commenced by originating summonses.

Lord Diplock, Lord Fraser of Tullybelton, Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Bridge of Harwich, Lord Brightman
[1983] 2 AC 237, [1982] 3 WLR 1096, [1982] 3 All ER 1124, [1983] UKHL 1
England and Wales
ApprovedRegina v Board of Visitors of Hull Prison, Ex parte St Germain (No 2) CA 1979
Proper Limits on Imprisonment
The court discussed the proper limits of imprisonment: ‘despite the deprivation of his general liberty, a prisoner remains invested with residuary rights appertaining to the nature and conduct of his incarceration . . An essential characteristic of . .

Cited by:
AppliedGillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority and Department of Health and Social Security HL 17-Oct-1985
Lawfulness of Contraceptive advice for Girls
The claimant had young daughters. She challenged advice given to doctors by the second respondent allowing them to give contraceptive advice to girls under 16, and the right of the first defendant to act upon that advice. She objected that the . .
CitedKemper Reinsurance Company v The Minister of Finance and others PC 5-May-1998
(Bermuda) An appeal Court did have jurisdiction to hear an appeal against the discharge of leave to apply for certiorari order, since this was outside scope of the rule in Lane v Esdaille.
Lord Hoffmann said: ‘Nevertheless, the limited nature . .
AppliedRegina v City of Westminster ex parte Mbayi Admn 15-Jul-1997
The applicant sought review of the decision of the respondent that she had refused accommodation. She wanted to assert that they had failed to take account of her medical needs.
Held: The application had not proceeded at a proper case, but the . .
CitedSD, Re Application for Judicial Review OHCS 2-Oct-2003
Parents sought judicial review of a decision not to open a Record of Needs for their child. A report said that the child was dyslexic. The applicants said his condition had not improved after an earlier request to open a record had been refused.
CitedBoddington v British Transport Police HL 2-Apr-1998
The defendant had been convicted, under regulations made under the Act, of smoking in a railway carriage. He sought to challenge the validity of the regulations themselves. He wanted to argue that the power to ban smoking on carriages did not . .
AppliedCocks v Thanet District Council HL 25-Nov-1981
The applicant had been given temporary accomodation under the Act. He sought to enforce the obligation on the respondent to house him permanently by an action in the county court. The authority said the action should have been by judicial review. . .
CitedRegina v Carroll and Al-Hasan and Secretary of State for Home Department Admn 16-Feb-2001
The claimants challenged the instruction that they must squat whilst undergoing a strip search in prison. A dog search had given cause to supect the presence of explosives in the wing, and the officers understood that such explosives might be hidden . .
CitedClark v University of Lincolnshire and Humberside CA 14-Apr-2000
A student had been failed after being falsely accused of cheating, but the academic review board, on remarking the paper marked it as zero.
Held: Where a University did not have the supervisory jurisdiction of a visitor, a breach of contract . .
CitedRoy v Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster Family Practitioner Committee HL 6-Feb-1992
The respondent had withheld part of the plaintiff’s GP payments saying that he had failed to devote himself full time to his practice. The plaintiff sued, and the defendant sought to strike out his application, saying that his application had to be . .
CitedMercury Communications Ltd v Director General of Telecommunications and Another HL 10-Feb-1995
The Secretary of State’s decision on the grant of a Telecommunications licence was challengeable by Summons and not by Judicial Review. A dispute between Mercury and BT as to charges as set by the Director General is a private not a public dispute. . .
CitedSteed v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 26-May-2000
The claimant surrendered guns and ammunition under the 1997 Act, and was due to be compensated. His claim was not settled, and he commenced an action in the County Court for the sums claimed. The defendant denied any duty to pay up within a . .
MentionedQRS 1 APS and others v Frandsen CA 21-May-1999
The appellants were all Danish companies put into liquidation for asset stripping in contravention of Danish law. The respondent was resident in the UK and had owned them. The Danish tax authorities issued tax demands and the liquidators now sought . .
CitedStancliffe Stone Company Ltd v Peak District National Park Authority QBD 22-Jun-2004
The claimants sought a declaration. Planning permission had been confirmed for four mineral extraction sites by letter in 1952. In 1996, two were listed as now being dormant. The claimant said the letter of 1952 created on single planning permision . .
CitedDavidson v Scottish Ministers HL 15-Dec-2005
The complainant a prisoner sought an order that he should not be kept in conditions found to be inhumane. He had been detained in Barlinnie priosn. The Crown replied that a mandatory order was not available against the Scottish Ministers.
CitedTweed v Parades Commission for Northern Ireland HL 13-Dec-2006
(Northern Ireland) The applicant sought judicial review of a decision not to disclose documents held by the respondent to him saying that the refusal was disproportionate and infringed his human rights. The respondents said that the documents were . .
AppliedKing v East Ayrshire Council IHCS 3-Nov-1997
An application for the closure of a school need not be based upon an assessment of school’s pupil capacity as at time of assessment. The court may exercise its discretion to refuse judicial review where that is appropriate, having regard to the . .
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; . .
CitedSher and Others v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and Others Admn 21-Jul-2010
The claimants, Pakistani students in the UK on student visas, had been arrested and held by the defendants under the 2000 Act before being released 13 days later without charge. They were at first held incognito. They said that their arrest and . .
CitedLumba (WL) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 23-Mar-2011
The claimants had been detained under the 1971 Act, after completing sentences of imprisonment pending their return to their home countries under deportations recommended by the judges at trial, or chosen by the respondent. They challenged as . .
CitedBubb v London Borough of Wandsworth CA 9-Nov-2011
The appellant had sought housing assistance. She had been offered accomodation but refused it as unreasonable. The authority declined further assistance. She now appealed against the refusal of the county court judge to set aside the decision . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Judicial Review, Prisons

Leading Case

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.182909