Case Previews: R v Mitchell (Northern Ireland); MB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; R (Hicks & Ors) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis
03 Wednesday Aug 2016
R v Mitchell (Northern Ireland), heard 7 July 2016.
The Supreme Court heard the appeal in R v Mitchell (Northern Ireland) on 7 July 2016, considering the extent to which bad character evidence could be relied on by the prosecution. Ms Mitchell had been convicted of murder, where the prosecution had relied upon disputed evidence of prior misconduct which had not been the subject of criminal conviction.
The Northern Ireland Court of Appeal overturned her conviction on the grounds that the jury had been improperly directed on the burden and standard of proof in relation to non-conviction bad character evidence by the judge.
The question certified for the Supreme Court is whether it is necessary for the prosecution relying on non conviction bad character evidence on the issue of propensity to commit a crime to prove these allegations of a propensity to do so beyond a reasonable doubt, before the jury can take them into account in determining guilt.
MB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, heard 5-6 July 2016.
The Supreme Court heard the appeal in MB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on 5-6 July 2016. The appellant is a post-operative male-to-female transsexual. She applied for a state pension when she became 60, as this was the pensionable age for women. However, she was denied a pension as she did not hold a full gender recognition certificate, meaning that her post-operative gender was not legally recognised. As such, she could not receive a pension until she reached the age of 65, which was the pensionable age for men. She was not entitled to hold a full gender recognition certificate, as she remained married to a woman. She challenged the decision of the respondent to refuse her claim for a state retirement pension.
The First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal dismissed her claim, but she received permission to apply to the Court of Appeal. She complained that the decision to refuse her was unlawful because it was contrary to the principle of equal treatment in the field of social security, as enshrined in the Social Security Directive 79/7/EEC and/or because it was unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. However, the Court of Appeal dismissed her challenge.
The Supreme Court will now consider whether the Court of Appeal was correct to hold that the Social Security Directive 79/7/EEC did not entitle the appellant to a state retirement pension once she reached 60.
R (Hicks & Ors) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, heard 28-29 June 2016.
The Supreme Court heard the appeal in R (Hicks & Ors) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis on 28-29 June 2016, considering whether the arrests of the appellants on the day of the Royal Wedding to prevent breaches of the peace complied with ECHR, art 5(1)(b) and (c). ECHR, art 5 provides that the right to liberty can only be curtailed in certain circumstances, including when it is reasonably necessary to prevent the commission of an offence or where it is necessary to secure the fulfilment of obligations prescribed by law.
The Divisional Court had determined that the arrests and detention of each appellant prior to the wedding and up to its conclusion complied with domestic law. In the Court of Appeal, the appellants challenged the compatibility of this deprivation of liberty with ECHR, art 5. It held that the arrests and detention for between 2.5 to 5.5 hours were not contrary to art 5(1)(c).
The Supreme Court will now consider if the Court of Appeal was correct to conclude that police actions were not contrary to ECHR, arts 5(1)(c) or 5(1)(b).