Regina v Director of Public Prosecutions ex parte Kebilene etc: Admn 30 Mar 1999

The applicants sought, by means of the Human Rights Act to challenge the way in which the decision had been made that they should be prosecuted under the 1989 Act, arguing that section 6(2) was inconsistent with the new Act.
Held: The Act contravened the Convention insofar as it made evidential presumptions which were incompatible with the presumption of innocence. An English court is able to apply the Convention anticipating the coming into force of the Act in the UK.
Lord Bingham CJ stated: ‘Statements by ministers concerning the future conduct of themselves and their officials can found no legitimate expectation concerning the future decisions of the Director since he, like the law officers, acts wholly independently of the executive when making decisions on the conduct of criminal proceedings. It is his public duty and responsibility to exercise his own independent judgement. He cannot be bound by any statement made on behalf of the executive, and no reasonable person alert to his constitutional role could expect him to be so bound.’
It was appropriate for the Court to review the soundness of the legal advice on which the DPP acted. The Lord Chief Justice explained: ‘Where the grant of leave to move for judicial review would delay or obstruct the conduct of criminal proceedings which ought, in the public interest, to be resolved with all appropriate expedition, the court will always scrutinise the application with the greatest care, both to satisfy itself that there are sound reasons for making the application and to satisfy itself that there are no discretionary grounds (such as delay or the availability of alternative remedies or vexatious conduct by the applicant) which should lead it to refuse leave. The court will be very slow to intervene where the applicant’s complaint is one that can be met by appropriate orders or directions in the criminal proceedings. If, however, strongly arguable grounds for making application are shown, as the single judge rightly held were shown here, and if there are no discretionary grounds for refusing relief, leave to move may properly be granted; and if on full argument grounds for granting relief are established and no discretionary grounds shown for refusing it, such relief may properly be granted even though the consequence is a delay in the resolution of criminal proceedings. Such was, no doubt, the consequence of quashing the applicant’s committal in Reg. v. Bedwellty Justices, Ex parte Williams [1997] A.C. 225. In the present case I see no discretionary reasons for refusing relief if the applicants establish a ground for granting it’


Lord Bingham of Cornhill LCJ, Laws LJ, Sullivan J


Times 31-Mar-1999, [1999] EWHC Admin 277, [1999] 3 WLR 175




Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 6(2), European Convention on Human Rights, Human Rights Act 1998


England and Wales


CitedRegina v Secretary of State For The Home Department, Ex Parte Launder HL 13-Mar-1997
The question arose as to whether or not the decision of the Secretary of State to extradite the applicant to Hong Kong would have amounted to a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Although the Convention was not at that time in force . .

Cited by:

Appeal fromRegina v Director of Public Prosecutions, ex parte Kebilene and others HL 28-Oct-1999
(Orse Kebeline) The DPP’s appeal succeeded. A decision by the DPP to authorise a prosecution could not be judicially reviewed unless dishonesty, bad faith, or some other exceptional circumstance could be shown. A suggestion that the offence for . .
CitedRegina v Department of Education and Employment ex parte Begbie CA 20-Aug-1999
A statement made by a politician as to his intentions on a particular matter if elected could not create a legitimate expectation as regards the delivery of the promise after elected, even where the promise would directly affect individuals, and the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Evidence, Human Rights, Constitutional

Updated: 24 July 2022; Ref: scu.139542