On appeal from: [2013] EWCA Civ 1587; [2013] EWHC 3777 (Admin)


The Supreme Court had to consider if it should depart from the previous House of Lords judgment in R (James & Ors) v Secretary of State for Justice following the ECtHR ruling in James v UK when considering the joined appeals relating to prisoners sentenced to imprisonment for public protection or life imprisonment. The appellants argued that the respondent had failed to provide them with a reasonable opportunity to progress their rehabilitation and release and in doing so had breach their rights under the ECHR, arts 5 and 14.

The Court unanimously allowed the appellants Haney and Massey’s appeals under art 5, awarding them damages of between £500 and £600, but dismissed appellant’s Kaiyam and Robinson’s appeal under art 5 and Haney’s appeal under art 14.

The Court stated that it was not bound to follow the decision of the ECtHR in James v UK and the express wording of art 5(1) or 5(4) did not create any relevant duty to provide prisoners with a reasonable opportunity to progress their rehabilitation and release.

However, in discussing the successful appeals under art 5, the Court stated that the overall scheme of art 5 did impose an implied ancillary duty to the Secretary of State to facilitate prisoner’s rehabilitation and release. This breach did not affect the lawfulness of the detention but it did entitle the prisoners to damages where the delays they had faced had deprived them with a reasonable opportunity to demonstrate that they were no longer a danger.

In regards to Robinson, the court stated that the question was not whether the appellant had been deprived of access to a particular course, but whether he had been given a reasonable opportunity to demonstrate that he was no longer a danger to the public.


For judgment, please download: [2014] UKSC 66
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII