Silver And Others v The United Kingdom: ECHR 25 Mar 1983

There had been interference with prisoners’ letters by prison authorities. The Commission considered Standing Orders and Circular Instructions in relation to restrictions on correspondence. The rules were not available to prisoners and were restrictive.
Held: ‘it is true that those applicants who were in custody may have experienced some annoyance and sense of frustration as a result of the restrictions that were imposed on particular letters. It does not appear, however, that this was of such intensity that it would in itself justify an award of compensation for non-pecuniary damage.’ Restrictions were however justifiable so long as the law was sufficiently precise to enable the individual to regulate his conduct, and that orders and instructions could be properly taken into account. ‘ and ‘a law which confers a discretion must indicate the scope of that discretion.’ though ‘the Court has already recognised the impossibility of attaining absolute certainty in the framing of laws and the risk that the search for certainty may entail excessive rigidity . . [T]he Court points out once more that ‘many laws are inevitably couched in terms which, to a greater or lesser extent, are vague and whose interpretation and application are questions of practice.’ As to the rule prohibiting ‘letters which discuss crime in general or the crime of others’: ‘The Commission considers that this restriction is also an obvious requirement of imprisonment and although it is not specified in the Prison Rules 1964, as amended, the Commission is of the opinion that it is a reasonable and foreseeable consequence of the Home Secretary’s power under rule 33(1) of the Prison Rules 1964 to impose restrictions on prisoners’ correspondence in the interests of good order, the prevention of crime or the interests of any persons. Prison security is, in the Commission’s opinion, an essential part of such interest. The prohibition on prisoners’ letters which discuss crime in general or the crime of others can, accordingly, be said to be ‘in accordance with the law’ within the meaning of Article 8(2). . . . On the justification issue, the Commission considers that a prohibition on prisoners’ letters which discuss crime in general or the crime of others is, in principle, an ordinary and reasonable requirement of imprisonment, ‘necessary in a democratic society . . for the prevention of disorder or crime’ within the meaning of Article 8(2).’
ECHR The court addressed the question of safeguards: ‘The applicants further contended that the law itself must provide safeguards against abuse. The Government recognised that the correspondence control system must itself be subject to control and the court finds it evident that some form of safeguards must exist. One of the principles underlying the Convention is the rule of law, which implies that an interference by the authorities with an individual’s rights should be subject to effective control. This is especially so where, as in the present case, the law bestows on the executive wide discretionary powers, the application whereof is a matter of practice which is susceptible to modification but not to any Parliamentary scrutiny.’

6205/73, [1983] 5 EHRR 347, [1983] ECHR 5, 7052/75, 5947/72
Worldlii, Bailii
European Convention on Human Rights 6-1 8 13, European Convention on Human Rights
Human Rights
At CommissionSilver v United Kingdom ECHR 1980
(Commission) Complaint was made as to the censorship of prisoners’ correspondence. The censorship of prisoners’ correspondence was ancillary to prison rules restricting the contents of correspondence. The Commission, therefore, and the Court had to . .

Cited by:
CitedAnufrijeva and Another v London Borough of Southwark CA 16-Oct-2003
The various claimants sought damages for established breaches of their human rights involving breaches of statutory duty by way of maladministration. Does the state have a duty to provide support so as to avoid a threat to the family life of the . .
CitedSzuluk, Regina (on the Application of) v HM Prison Full Sutton Admn 20-Feb-2004
The prisoner was receiving long term health treatment, and objected that his correspondence with the doctor was being read. He was held as a category B prisoner but in a prison also holding category A prisoners, whose mail would be read. The prison . .
CitedBegum, Regina (on the Application of) v Denbigh High School Admn 15-Jun-2004
A schoolgirl complained that she had been excluded from school for wearing a form of attire which accorded with her Muslim beliefs.
Held: The school had made great efforts to establish what forms of wear were acceptable within the moslem . .
CitedS, Regina (on Application of) v South Yorkshire Police; Regina v Chief Constable of Yorkshire Police ex parte Marper HL 22-Jul-2004
Police Retention of Suspects DNA and Fingerprints
The claimants complained that their fingerprints and DNA records taken on arrest had been retained after discharge before trial, saying the retention of the samples infringed their right to private life.
Held: The parts of DNA used for testing . .
CitedNilsen v HM Prison Full Sutton and Another CA 17-Nov-2004
The prisoner, a notorious murderer had begun to write his autobiography. His solicitor wished to return a part manuscript to him in prison to be finished. The prison did not allow it, and the prisoner claimed infringement of his article 10 rights. . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for The Home Department Ex Parte Simms HL 8-Jul-1999
Ban on Prisoners talking to Journalists unlawful
The two prisoners, serving life sentences for murder, had had their appeals rejected. They continued to protest innocence, and sought to bring their campaigns to public attention through the press, having oral interviews with journalists without . .
CitedHirst v United Kingdom (2) ECHR 6-Oct-2005
(Grand Chamber) The applicant said that whilst a prisoner he had been banned from voting. The UK operated with minimal exceptions, a blanket ban on prisoners voting.
Held: Voting is a right not a privilege. It was a right central in a . .
See AlsoSilver And Others v The United Kingdom (Art 50) ECHR 24-Oct-1983
. .
CitedThe Public Law Project, Regina (on The Application of) v Lord Chancellor SC 13-Jul-2016
Proposed changes to the Legal Aid regulations were challenged as being invalid, for being discriminatory. If regulations are not authorised under statute, they will be invalid, even if they have been approved by resolutions of both Houses under the . .
CitedThe Christian Institute and Others v The Lord Advocate SC 28-Jul-2016
(Scotland) By the 2014 Act, the Scottish Parliament had provided that each child should have a named person to monitor that child’s needs, with information about him or her shared as necessary. The Institute objected that the imposed obligation to . .
CitedMiller v The College of Policing CA 20-Dec-2021
Hate-Incident Guidance Inflexible and Unlawful
The central issue raised in the appeal is the lawfulness of certain parts of a document entitled the Hate Crime Operational Guidance (the Guidance). The Guidance, issued in 2014 by the College of Policing (the College), the respondent to this . .
CitedGallagher for Judicial Review (NI) SC 30-Jan-2019
Disclosure of older minor offences to employers 48 . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Damages, Prisons

Leading Case

Updated: 02 January 2022; Ref: scu.164917