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Case details

R (on the application of Pearce and another) (Respondents) v Parole Board of England and Wales (Appellant)

Case ID: 2022/0052

Case summary


(1) When the Parole Board assesses the risk to the public arising from the potential release of a prisoner, can it only take into account allegations if they are proved on the balance of probabilities?
(2) Does the Parole Board’s “Guidance on Allegations” (the Guidance) misstate the law on this issue?


On 13 October 2010, Mr Pearce was sentenced to imprisonment for public protection with a minimum term of 3½ years (less time spent on remand) after he pleaded guilty to three separate offences of sexual assault committed in 2009. Mr Pearce has been eligible for release at the direction of the Parole Board since 2013, but he remains in prison. His imprisonment has been reviewed on four occasions. Most recently, the Parole Board in May 2019 refused to direct his release and instead directed his transfer to open prison conditions (the Decision). In accordance with the Guidance, the Parole Board took into account unproven allegations about other alleged sexual assaults by Mr Pearce against women and girls when assessing the risk to the public arising from Mr Pearce’s release.

Mr Pearce challenged the Decision by way of judicial review. The High Court dismissed the Mr Pearce’s claim and held that the Decision and the Guidance were lawful. On appeal, the Court of Appeal held that the Guidance contained unlawful misstatements of the law regarding the use of unproven allegations in the assessment of risk. However, the Decision itself was lawful as the Parole Board had made findings of fact on which it based its assessment of future risk. The Parole Board now appeals to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Court of Appeal was wrong to hold that parts of the Guidance were unlawful.

Judgment appealed

[2020] EWHC 3437



Parole Board of England and Wales


(1) Dean Pearce
(2) Secretary of State for Justice



Lord Hodge, Lord Kitchin, Lord Hamblen, Lord Richards, Lord Hughes

Hearing start date

9 November 2022

Hearing finish date

10 November 2022

Watch hearing
9 November 2022 Morning session Afternoon session
10 November 2022 Morning session

Future Judgment Update

Please note that appeal in the matter of R (on the application of Pearce and another) (Respondents) v Parole Board of England and Wales (Appellant) has been heard by the Supreme Court and is currently awaiting judgment.

As soon as the judgment hand-down date is confirmed, it will be published on the Future judgments page of this website. As a very broad indication, judgments tend to follow between three to nine months after the conclusion of the appeal hearing, although in some cases it may be earlier than that. Information about judgment hand-downs is usually announced one week in advance. We are unable to give any indication of the likely hand-down date for judgments not listed on the Future judgments page.