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’, changes over time, and the requirements are flexible and closely conditioned by the legal and administrative context. As regards acting within a statutory scheme. The House rejected the argument that the existence of express statutory rights to a fair hearing in relation to some kinds of decisions affecting prisoners entailed the absence of any such right in relation to all other such decisions.
Lord Mustill said: ‘An essential feature of the context is the statute which creates the discretion, as regards both its language and the shape of the legal and administrative system within which the decision is taken’. Consultation and the right to make representations are basic aspects of procedural fairness in public law.
He set out six principles of fairness in public law decisions: (1) where an Act of Parliament confers an administrative power there is a presumption that it will be exercised in a manner which is fair in all the circumstances. (2) The standards of fairness are not immutable. They may change with the passage of time, both in the general and in their application to decisions of a particular type. (3) The principles of fairness are not to be applied by rote identically in every situation. What fairness demands is dependent on the context of the decision, and this is to be taken into account in all its aspects. (4) An essential feature of the context is the statute which creates the discretion, as regards both its language and the shape of the legal and administrative system within which the decision is taken. (5) Fairness will very often require that a person who may be adversely affected by the decision will have an opportunity to make representations on his own behalf either before the decision is taken with a view to producing a favourable result; or after it is taken, with a view to procuring its modification; or both. (6) Since the person affected usually cannot make worthwhile representations without knowing what factors may weigh against his interests fairness will very often require that he is informed of the gist of the case which he has to answer.’ and
‘The respondents acknowledge that it is not enough for them to persuade the court that some procedure other than the one adopted by the decision maker would be better or more fair. Rather, they must show that the procedure is actually unfair. The court must constantly bear in mind that it is to the decision maker, not the court, that Parliament has entrusted not only the making of the decision but also the choice as to how the decision is made.’
Lord Reed said: ‘As Lord Mustill made clear, what fairness demands is dependent on the context; and an essential feature of the context is the statute under which the decision maker is acting . . The principle of audi alteram partem is . . written into the Act. We do not doubt that it is open to the commissioner to go beyond the procedural steps required by section 49, and in particular, as in the present case, to consider additional submissions by the applicant and to carry out his own investigations. Having regard however to section 49(3) in particular, we consider that if the commissioner proposes to consider additional submissions by the applicant . . he must give the authority notice of any relevant material adverse to their position and invite their comments. Compliance with such an obligation will not impose an ‘unreasonable’ burden on the commissioner, and is liable to improve the quality of his decisions as well as ensuring their fairness. ‘
Lord Mustill, Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Lane, Lord Templeman, Lord Browne-Wilkinson
Independent 25-Jun-1993, Times 29-Jun-1993,  3 All ER 92,  1 AC 531,  UKHL 8,  3 WLR 154
Criminal Justice Act 1967 61(1)
England and Wales
Adopted – Regina v Parole Board and Another ex parte Wilson CA 6-May-1992
It was natural justice to allow a discretionary lifer to see the reports which had been prepared for consideration on his application for release on licence. W had been sentenced to life imprisonment for buggery, and was a discretionary life . .
Cited – Kanda v Government of the Federation of Malaya PC 2-Apr-1962
A police Inspector had been dismissed on a finding of an offence against discipline. . He complained that he had not been allowed to see the report of the Board of Inquiry which contained prejudicial material and which had been relied upon by the . .
Cited – Carltona 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 . .
At CA dicta approved – Doody v Secretary of State for the Home Department CACD 1992
The Court considered the procedure for fixing the period for which prisoners sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment should serve for retribution and deterrence before their sentences could be reviewed. Held Staughton LJ considered the issue of . .
Cited – Regina (Anderson) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Regina (Taylor) v Same CA 13-Nov-2001
The applicants had been convicted of murder. The Home Secretary had to fix sentence tariffs for their release. They contended that it was a breach of their rights for that tariff to be set by a politician. The distinction was made between offences . .
Cited – Checkpoint Ltd v Strathclyde Pension Fund CA 6-Feb-2003
The tenants sought to challenge the arbitrator’s award setting the rent payable under the lease. They claimed that he had improperly refered to his own experience of the market, to support his decision, and this committed a serious irregularity . .
Cited – Wright v Her Majesty’s Advocate HCJ 2-May-2003
The defendant appealed his sentence of life imprisonment for assault and attempted rape, with a minimum of twelve years to be served. The trial judge was right in deciding that, because of the risk that the appellant presented to women, a . .
Cited – Sporting Options Plc, Regina (on the Application Of) v Horserace Betting Levy Board Admn 31-Jul-2003
The claimant sought judicial review of the rate of levy set by the respondent, saying that they operated a new kind of system which was treated unfairly.
Held: The procedure followed in settling the levy was unsatisfactory. The claimant would . .
Cited – Lord, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 1-Sep-2003
The claimant was a category A prisoner serving a sentence of life imprisonment for murder. He sought the reasons for his categorisation as a Class A prisoner. Unhappy at the disclosure made, he sought information under the 1998 Act. It was argued . .
Applied – Regina v Secretary of State Home Department, Ex Parte Duggan QBD 9-Dec-1993
A High Security prisoner is to know the gist of report and reasons for his categorisation: ‘on the first and subsequent annual reviews, fairness, in my view, requires that the gist of the reports be revealed in order to give the opportunity for . .
Applied – Regina v Secretary of State for Home Department ex parte McAvoy CA 3-Dec-1997
A prisoner had the right to know the gist (though not the full contents) of reports used in deciding on a review of his security status. (Lord Woolf MR) ‘For my part, I accept that it is desirable, when something has the impact which being placed in . .
Cited – Regina (X) v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police QBD 23-Jan-2004
The claimant, a social worker, had been accused of two offences of indecency with children, but the complainants had failed to identify him. The respondent later disclosed those allegations when called upon to provide an enhanced criminal record . .
Cited – Regina v Chief Constable of North Wales Police and Others Ex Parte Thorpe and Another; Regina v Chief Constable for North Wales Police Area and others ex parte AB and CB CA 18-Mar-1998
Public Identification of Pedophiles by Police
AB and CB had been released from prison after serving sentences for sexual assaults on children. They were thought still to be dangerous. They moved about the country to escape identification, and came to be staying on a campsite. The police sought . .
Cited – Independent Assessor v O’Brien, Hickey, Hickey CA 29-Jul-2004
The claimants had been imprisoned for many years before their convictions were quashed. They claimed compensation under the Act. The assessor said that there should be deducted from the award the living expenses they would have incurred if they had . .
Cited – Capenhurst and Others, Regina (on the Application Of) v Leicester City Council Admn 15-Sep-2004
The applicants, representatives of voluntary organisations, challenged decisions of the local authority to withdraw their funding, saying the decision making process had been unfair.
Held: Even if it was not bound to consult, if the authority . .
Cited – Feld, Lord Mayor and Citizens of the City of Westminster v London Borough of Barnet, Lord Mayor and Citizens of the City of Westminster CA 18-Oct-2004
The applicants sought housing as homeless people. After the refusal of their applications, they sought a review, and in due course a second review. That second review was conducted by the same officer who had conducted the first. The appellant . .
Cited – Regina (Kent Pharmaceuticals Ltd) v Serious Fraud Office CA 11-Nov-2004
In 2002 the SFO was investigating allegations that drug companies were selling generic drugs, including penicillin-based antibiotics and warfarin, to the National Health Service at artificially sustained prices. To further the investigation the SFO . .
Cited – Regina v Parole Board ex parte Smith, Regina v Parole Board ex parte West (Conjoined Appeals) HL 27-Jan-2005
Each defendant challenged the way he had been treated on revocation of his parole licence, saying he should have been given the opportunity to make oral representations.
Held: The prisoners’ appeals were allowed.
Lord Bingham stated: . .
Cited – Secretary 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 . .
Cited – Regina v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Ex Parte Hindley HL 30-Mar-2000
The prisoner, sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life tariff for the murders of children, now appealed against the imposition of the whole life tarriff.
Held: The appeal failed. It was possible for a Home Secretary to set a whole life . .
Cited – Roberts v Parole Board HL 7-Jul-2005
Balancing Rights of Prisoner and Society
The appellant had been convicted of the murder of three police officers in 1966. His tariff of thirty years had now long expired. He complained that material put before the Parole Board reviewing has case had not been disclosed to him.
Held: . .
Cited – Smith, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 28-Jul-2005
The applicant had, as a child been subject to detention during Her Majesty’s pleasure, the sentence being imposed before 30 November 2000. She argued that that sentence should be subject to periodic review despite the term had been fixed by the Lord . .
Cited – Dudson, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 28-Jul-2005
The defendant had committed a murder when aged 16, and after conviction sentenced to be detailed during Her Majesty’s Pleasure. His tarriff had been set at 18 years, reduced to 16 years after review.
Held: ‘What is at issue is the general . .
Cited – Regina v Ministry of Defence ex parte Colin James Murray QBD 15-Dec-1997
The defendant sought judicial review of his court-martial and of the confirming officers. He said the court should have heard that he committed the offence whist intixicated after taking an anti-malarial drug. The court dd not explain why it had . .
Cited – Regina v Universities Funding Council ex parte Institute of Dental Surgery QBD 30-Jul-1993
When considering whether a disciplinary board should have given reasons, the court may find the absence critical ‘where the decision appears aberrant’. ‘the giving of reasons may among other things concentrate the decision-maker’s mind on the right . .
Cited – Hasan, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry CA 25-Nov-2008
The claimant appealed refusal of leave to bring judicial review of decisions to sell arms to the Israeli state. He lived in Palestine and said that Israel had destroyed his farm, and that licences broke the criteria under the 2002 Act. He said that . .
Cited – Bamber, Regina v CACD 14-May-2009
The defendant had been convicted in 1986 of the murder of five members of his adoptive family. The judge had initially recommended a minimum term of 25 years. A later judge had suggested a whole life term. The convictions had been upheld in 2002. . .
Cited – Crest Nicholson Plc v Office of Fair Trading Admn 24-Jul-2009
The company challenged as unfair its treatment by the respondent in imposing fines for anti-competive behaviour. The claimant was successor of the company who had misbehaved, but the claimant no longer operated in the area and had no employees from . .
Cited – Regina v Secretary of State for Wales Ex Parte Emery CA 9-Jul-1997
The applicant had sought to have included in the definitive map, a local footpath, and now challenged refusal to include it.
Held: A public right of way may be created by dedication or it may be deemed after actual use by the public over . .
Cited – Bank Mellat v HM Treasury QBD 11-Jun-2010
The respondent had made an order under the Regulations restricting all persons from dealing with the the claimant bank. The bank applied to have the order set aside. Though the defendant originally believed that the Iranian government owned 80% of . .
Cited – Shoesmith, Regina (on The Application of) v OFSTED and Others CA 27-May-2011
The claimant appealed against dismissal of her claim. She had been head of Child Services at Haringey. After the notorious violent death of Baby P, the Secretary of State called for an inquiry under the Act. He then removed her as director. She . .
Cited – Save Our Surgery Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts Admn 7-Mar-2013
The claimants sought judicial review of the report prepared by the defendants under which departments providing childrens’ heart surgery at their regional hospital would close. They complained that the consultation had been inadequate and flawed. . .
Cited – Regina (Tucker) v Director General of the National Crime Squad CA 17-Jan-2003
The applicant was a senior officer seconded to the National Crime Squad. He complained that his secondment had been terminated in a manner which was unfair, and left him tainted without opportunity to reply. He appealed against rejection of his . .
Cited – Bank Mellat v Her Majesty’s Treasury (No 2) SC 19-Jun-2013
The bank challenged measures taken by HM Treasury to restrict access to the United Kingdom’s financial markets by a major Iranian commercial bank, Bank Mellat, on the account of its alleged connection with Iran’s nuclear weapons and ballistic . .
Cited – South Lanarkshire Council v The Scottish Information Commissioner SC 29-Jul-2013
Commissioner’s Approach not in Breach
In May 2010, a Mr Irvine made requests under the 2002 Act for information from South Lanarkshire Council. He wanted to know how many of their employees in a particular post were placed at 10 particular points on the Council’s pay scales. His . .
Cited – 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 . .
Cited – Adams, Regina v (Northern Ireland) SC 13-May-2020
Secretary of State alone to consider confinement
The appellant had been detained under an Interim Custody Order (ICO) during internment during the troubles in Ireland, and then convicted of attempting to escape and escaping. He now appealed from that conviction saying that the order under which he . .
Cited – Dover District Council v CPRE Kent SC 6-Dec-2017
‘When a local planning authority against the advice of its own professional advisers grants permission for a controversial development, what legal duty, if any, does it have to state the reasons for its decision, and in how much detail? Is such a . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Natural Justice, Judicial Review, Prisons
Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.87844