On appeal from: [2011] EWCA Civ 349; [2012] EWCA Civ 452.

These appeals concerned the circumstances in which a prisoner serving a life sentence or an indeterminate sentence for public protection who has served their tariff (and the only justification for further detention is if it is necessary for the protection of the public) should be awarded damages for delay in reviewing the need for further detention.

The Supreme Court allowed the Parole Board’s appeal in the case of Faulkner, reduced the damages awarded to him to £6500, and dismissed his cross-appeal. In the case of Sturnham the Court allowed the applicant’s appeal.

The argument that the detention of a life prisoner constitutes false imprisonment if it continues beyond the point at which the prisoner would have been released if a hearing had been held, and violates ECHR, art 5(4), was rejected. Violations of art 5(1) require exceptional circumstances that would warrant the conclusion that continued detention had become arbitrary. When it can be established on balance of probabilities that a violation of art 5(4) has prolonged the detention of a prisoner, damages should ordinarily be awarded. In circumstances where it cannot be established that an earlier hearing would have resulted in an earlier release but a delay violating art 5(4) has caused the prisoner frustration and anxiety, modest damages should be awarded. When awarding damages the courts should be guided primarily by ECtHR principles.

For judgment, please download: [2013] UKSC 23
For the Court’s press summary, please download: Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII