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Quinland v Governor of H M Prison Swaleside & Others, Court of Appeal

27 February 2002
The issues

False imprisonment – liability of the Court – Order wrongly drawn up.

The facts

The Claimant sued the Governor of HM Prison Swaleside and the Lord Chancellor’s Department for false imprisonment. He was sentenced to be imprisoned for 2 years, 3 months. The Court Clerk mistakenly drew up the Order for 2 years 6 months. The Registrar of Criminal Appeals failed to correct the error despite a Direction by a Judge considering an Application for Appeal. He had subsequently appealed for leave to appeal against the conviction. That Application had been dismissed but in the course of its dismissal, the Court of Appeal highlighted the error and urged it to be checked. Thereafter, the Criminal Court of Appeal failed to act on it urgently which resulted in the Claimant serving 6 weeks longer than he needed to. The Claimant issued a claim for false imprisonment which was struck out by the District Judge. The Claimant appealed.

The decision

The Crown Proceedings Act 1947 rendered the Crown subject to liability in tort except that Section 2(v) excluded liability in respect of a person “whilst discharging or purporting to discharge any responsibilities of a Judicial nature vested in him, or any responsibilities which he had in connection with the execution of Judicial process”. The Lord Chancellor’s Department submitted that these were matters for which it had immunity.

The Court of Appeal agreed and the Appeal failed

The Court (in the person of Hale LJ expressed the hope that compensation could be given to the Claimant on an ex-gratia basis).

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