On appeal from: [2015] NICA 66

Hugh Jordan’s son was shot and killed by a member of the RUC in 1992. He brought proceedings for breach of ECHR, art 2 in Strasbourg, on the basis that there was no prompt and effective investigation into the death. He was awarded damages in 2001.

Mr Jordan brought the present proceedings for judicial review seeking declarations that the PSNI and the Coroner had violated ECHR, art 2 rights by delaying the commencement of the inquest and an award of damages under the Human Rights Act 1998, s 8 in respect of the delay from the date of the Strasbourg judgment in 2001 until 24 September 2012, when a first inquest was opened (the verdict of that inquest was quashed in 2014).

The Court of Appeal ordered that the proceedings should be stayed until after the second inquest had been completed, and Mr Jordan appealed.

The Supreme Court unanimously allows the appeal. Where it is the delay itself that constitutes a breach of the claimant’s Convention rights, the breach does not crystallise only after the inquest has been concluded (earlier authority was confined to where damages only were the only outstanding issue). Convention rights must be practical and effective. A stay will be unlawful if it results
in a breach of the “reasonable time” guarantee in art 6, and
a stay also engages another aspect of art 6, namely the guarantee of an effective right of access to a court.

A stay must therefore pursue a legitimate aim, and there must be a reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought to be achieved.

For judgment, please download: [2019] UKSC 9
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 (23 Oct 2018 morning session) (23 Oct 2018 afternoon session)