Taylor, Regina v: SC 13 Nov 2019

(Redacted) The court was asked to consider the meaning of ‘torture’ from events in a rebellion in Liberia in 1990. The CACD certified the following point of law of general public importance: ‘What is the correct interpretation of the term ‘person acting in an official capacity’ in section 134(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988; in particular does it include someone who acts otherwise than in a private and individual capacity for or on behalf of an organisation or body which exercises or purports to exercise the functions of government over the civilian population in the territory which it controls and in which the relevant conduct occurs?’
Held: The appeal was allowed: ‘the prosecution is correct in its interpretation of article 1 UNCAT and section 134 CJA. I consider that the words of those provisions in their ordinary meaning support this reading. They are sufficiently wide to include conduct by a person acting in an official capacity on behalf of an entity exercising governmental control over a civilian population in a territory over which it exercises de facto control. In particular, I can see no justification for imposing the limitation on those words for which the appellant contends, which would require the conduct to be on behalf of the government of the State concerned. On the contrary, the words in their ordinary meaning are apt to include conduct on behalf of a de facto authority which seeks to overthrow the government of the State.’


Baroness Hale of Richmond PSC, Lord Reed DPSC, Lord Wilson, Lord Hodge, Lord Lloyd-Jones JJSC


[2020] 1 Cr App R 19, [2019] UKSC 51, [2019] WLR(D) 648, [2020] HLR 8, (2020) 171 BMLR 37, [2020] 2 All ER 477, [2019] WLR(D) 638, [2019] 3 WLR 1073, 49 BHRC 132, [2021] AC 349, [2020] Crim LR 560


Bailii, Bailii Summary, WLRD


Criminal Justice Act 1988 134, Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 36, United Nations Convention against Torture


England and Wales


CitedRegina v Bartle and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and Others, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte; Regina v Evans and Similar (No 3) HL 24-Mar-1999
An application to extradite a former head of state for an offence which was not at the time an offence under English law would fail, but could proceed in respect of allegations of acts after that time. No immunity was intended for heads of state. . .
CitedJones v Ministry of Interior for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and others HL 14-Jun-2006
The claimants said that they had been tortured by Saudi police when arrested on false charges. They sought damages, and appealed against an order denying jurisdiction over the defendants. They said that the allegation of torture allowed an exception . .
CitedEO and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department Admn 17-May-2013
. .
CitedMedical Justice and Others v Secretary of State for The Home Department and Another Admn 10-Oct-2017
Contention that the SSHD, had issued unlawful statutory Guidance, and policies, albeit for the lawful purpose of preventing those who are more vulnerable to harm in immigration detention from entering immigration detention, or for removing them from . .
Appeal fromSecretary of State for Work and Pensions v DL and Another (HB) UTAA 28-Aug-2018
Housing and Council Tax Benefits – Payments That Are Eligible for HB . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 09 May 2022; Ref: scu.648565