Regina v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs ex parte Ferhut Butt: CA 9 Jul 1999

The applicant had sought an order that the FCO should make representations to the President of the Yemen relating to a criminal trial in progress in the Yemen.
Held: Henry LJ recorded the concession by the respondent Secretary of State that he was under ‘a common law duty to protect its citizens abroad’, but that ‘the extent and the limits of that duty (were) set out in a leaflet that is available for those who travel abroad’. Those leaflets ‘expressly excluded intervention in a criminal trial, which was fatal to the application’
Henry LJ said: ‘Whether and when to seek to interfere or to put pressure on in relation to the legal process, if ever it is a sensible and a right thing to do, must be a matter for the Executive and no one else, with their access to information and to local knowledge. It is clearly not a matter for the courts. It is clearly a high policy decision of a government in relation to its foreign relations and is not justiciable by way of judicial review.’


Henry LJ


(1999) 116 ILR 607, [1999] EWCA Civ 1803




England and Wales


Appeal fromRegina v Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ex parte Ferhut Butt Admn 1-Jul-1999
Lightman J said: ‘The general rule is well established that the courts should not interfere in the conduct of foreign relations by the Executive, most particularly where such interference is likely to have foreign policy repercussions . . This . .
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International, Judicial Review

Updated: 30 May 2022; Ref: scu.146718