Divisional Court: Lewis LJ and McGowan J,  EWHC 3114 (Admin), 23 November 2021
The Divisional Court rejected a challenge under Article 14 to the lawfulness of the claimant’s detention following his recall to for failure to comply with the terms of his release on licence. A number of claims were made, including that the application to the claimant of the licence regime imposed by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, rather than its predecessor the Criminal Justice Act 1991, breached Article 14 read with Article 5 and/or 7 of the Convention because he had been treated differently from a prisoner convicted of an identical offence and sentenced to an identical because he had not been in custody at the time that the 2003 Act’s licence regime was imposed, having instead been unlawfully at large.
The Court rejected all the grounds of challenge. As to Article 14, it ruled at §61 that the Claimant was not in fact subject to different treatment by reason of having been unlawfully at large at the material date, rather because of the date on which his offences. At §63, “even assuming differential treatment between the claimant and such a prisoner on grounds of other status, and assuming that they are in an analogous situation, the difference in treatment would be objectively justified. The second defendant wished to move to a different system of release provisions, including increasing the licence period to make it co-extensive with the remainder of the sentence. That was done by making the 2003 Act provisions governing release apply to sentences for offences committed on or after 4 April 2005. The decision to alter the arrangements for early release is objectively justified. The application of the new arrangements to those who committed offences after a certain date is also objectively justified. That conclusion is consistent with the observations of Lord Hughes JSC in R v Docherty (Shaun)  UKSC 62,  1 WLR 181, cited by Lady Black JSC in Stott at paragraph 62”.
Claimant: Philip Rule, instructed by Instalaw
Defendants: Hugh Flanagan, instructed by the Government Legal Department