On appeal from: [2015] EWCA Civ 328

This appeal considered whether the arrangements for placing prisoners in Approved Premises (APs) upon release from custody gave rise to unlawful sex discrimination, either direct or indirect.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal to the extent of granting a declaration that provision of APs constituted direct discrimination against women, which is unlawful unless justified, and that the Secretary of State has yet to show such justification. The Court held that it was not necessary for the appellant to show that every female prisoner required to live at an AP has suffered the detriment of being placed at an AP far from her home in order to establish a case of direct discrimination on grounds of sex, and considered that the risk of being placed far from home is much greater for women than for men due to the smaller numbers of female offenders, and the policy decision that the particular vulnerability of women required to live in an AP means that all APs should be single sex. The Supreme Court decided that the Ministry of Justice has never properly addressed its mind to the problem of providing sufficient and suitable places in APs for women that achieve, so far as is practicable, the policy of placing them as close to home as possible. As there are other options which could have been considered but were not, such as replacing large women’s APs with smaller units more widely spread, the Court held that the Secretary of State for Justice had failed to show that the discrimination was justified.

For judgment, please download: [2017] UKSC 40
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 (21 Feb 2017 morning session) (21 Feb 2017 afternoon session)