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R (Hammond) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2005] UKHL 69

Paragraph 11(1), Sched 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which denied a sentencing judge any possibility of an oral hearing even when he considered it essential for the fair determination of an existing prisoner's minimum term, was incompatible with the prisoner's right to a fair and public hearing under Art.6 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950. Where a prisoner faced the prospect of imprisonment for the whole of his life or for a very lengthy period and fairness required an oral hearing, it was not an entitlement of which he should be lightly deprived.

13 January 2006

The Secretary of State appealed against a decision that the procedure for setting a minimum term under para 11(1), Sched 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 was incompatible with Art 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950. H was a mandatory life prisoner to whom the transitional provisions in Sched 22 applied. Pursuant to Sched 22, para 3, the secretary of state had referred H’s case to the High Court to have his minimum term fixed. H requested an oral hearing, but Sched 22, para 11(1) provided that the matter was to be determined by a single judge without an oral hearing. H sought judicial review and obtained a declaration to the effect that in accordance with the s 3 Human Rights Act 1998, para 11(1) of Sched 22 to the 2003 Act was to be read subject to an implied provision that where it was necessary to comply with the existing prisoner’s rights under Art 6(1) of the Convention, the judge had the discretion to order an oral hearing. The secretary of state accepted ...

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