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R (on the application of Daniel Roque Hall) v (1) University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2) Secretary of State for Justice (2013)

Sarah Ellson
15/03/2013
The Claimant applied for permission to proceed with an application for judicial review of a decision by the first defendant ("the Trust") to discharge him from hospital and back to the prison being The Claimant applied for permission to proceed with an application for judicial review of a decision by the first defendant ("the Trust") to discharge him from hospital and back to the prison being run by the second defendant.

The Claimant was severely disabled as a result of a brain disease, meaning that he required 24 hour care and was confined to a wheelchair. He had been convicted of importing class A drugs in July 2012, following the consideration of reports which confirmed that he could be provided with proper care in prison, he was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

On 22 August 2012, the Claimant was admitted to a Trust hospital. At around the same time, he issued a claim that the prison regime to which he was subject amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, contrary to Article 3 (prohibition of torture and degrading treatment) and Article 8 (right to a private life) of the European Convention of Human Rights. He relied upon his hospitalisation and his failing health immediately before his admission to hospital. Permission to proceed with the claim was refused by the Administrative Court.

Whilst an application for an oral hearing to renew the application was outstanding, the Claimant was judged fit to be discharged from hospital. He then brought an additional claim that his previous time in prison had put his life at risk and reduced his life expectancy and that to return him to prison would put his life at risk and reduce his life expectancy in breach of Article 2 (right to life) of the Convention. 

In considering the amended claim, the Court held that for individuals detained by the state, the Article 2 duty extended to an obligation to preserve life and provide necessary care to preserve life. However this Article was only engaged where there was a real and immediate risk of death to the individual. The Claimant's condition on admission to hospital was explained by his longstanding use of medication and not his treatment in prison. There was no evidential basis upon which to assert that the Claimant's life was in danger or his life expectancy reduced because of his time and treatment in prison. Therefore his Article 2 claim was without foundation.

The Court then applied previous case law which stated that the invocation of Article 3 required a high threshold of severity to be met, previously described as serious or intense physical or mental suffering. The Court held that the Claimant's treatment, even considered in aggregate, did not even arguably engage, let alone breach, his human rights.

In respect of the Article 8 claim, no discrete submissions on this point were made by the Claimant. The Court held that it was difficult to see the relevance of Article 8 and that there was no engagement or breach of Article 8.  It noted that it was not the Court's role to assess whether the conditions of detention were optimal, or even of a reasonable standard, but simply whether they amounted to a breach of the Claimant's human rights.

Permission to proceed on any grounds was therefore refused. However, a separate appeal against the Claimant's sentence resulted in his sentence being quashed, meaning that upon discharge from hospital the Claimant was not discharged to the prison in any event.

Read the case here.

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