On appeal from: [2016] EWCA Civ 775

This appeal considered whether, where a person claims that a prosecution has been brought in breach of her human rights, the time limit for bringing proceedings under the HRA 1998 runs from the date of her acquittal/conviction, or the date on which any appeals are granted. It also considered whether the High Court judge was correct to conclude, for the purposes of the summary judgment application, that the appellant’s claim of indirect discrimination contrary to ECHR, arts 6 and 14 had a real prospect of success.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal. The Court determined that the Appellant’s challenge was to the conduct of the Respondent in bringing and pursuing disciplinary proceedings against her, not to an alleged state of affairs in which BME lawyers were more likely to be the subject of such proceedings. Therefore, the bringing and pursuit of the disciplinary proceedings were the focus of the investigation in terms of s 7(5)(a) of the 1998 Act. The Court held that s 7(5)(a) should not be read narrowly, and therefore considered that the alleged infringement of Convention rights in this case arose from a single continuous course of conduct, as it could not have been the intention of Parliament that each step should be an “act” to which the one year limitation period should apply. Due to the regulatory scheme and the Visitors of the Inns of Court’s jurisdiction, as applicable to the disciplinary proceedings against the Appellant, the Supreme Court concluded that the Respondent’s part in the proceedings before the Disciplinary Tribunal and those before the Visitors should be regarded as part of a single continuing act. Therefore, the single continuing act in this case continued until the Visitors allowed the Appellant’s appeal on 17 August 2012 and as such, as she commenced proceedings on 21 February 2013, these proceedings were brought within the limitation period.

For judgment, please download: [2017] UKSC 78
For Court’s Press Summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing, please visit: Supreme Court Website (4 Oct 2017 morning session) (4 Oct 2017 afternoon session)