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Case details

In the matter of an application by Stephen Hilland for Judicial Review (Appellant) (Northern Ireland)

Case ID: 2022/0078

Case summary


Is applying a lower threshold test for the recall of prisoners on licence who are subject to a "determinate custodial sentence", such as the Appellant, than is applied for the recall of prisoners subject to other allegedly comparable types of sentence discriminatory and a breach of the Appellant's rights under Article 5 (right to liberty and security) read with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)?


The Appellant was convicted of two offences and sentenced in May 2015 to a sentence of imprisonment referred to as a "determinate custodial sentence", by which the custodial and license periods of a prisoner's sentence are set at the outset. The Appellant was sentenced to two years, with a year to be spent in custody and a year on licence. Prisoners spend their licence periods in the community, subject to conditions, and are subject to recall.

In February 2016, the Appellant, having served the custodial element of the two offences, was released on licence. In September 2016, he was arrested on suspicion of involvement in offences, in breach of his licence conditions. He was ultimately recalled to prison by a decision of the Department of Justice on 21 October 2016. The Appellant's case was subsequently referred to the Parole Commissioner, which declined to release him, with the result that he remained in prison until 3 February 2017 when he was released.

The Appellant argues that the Department of Justice's decision to recall him to prison was made in breach of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) read with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) ECHR, as incorporated by the HRA. It is argued that he has by virtue of the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 been discriminated against in comparison with the treatment afforded by that order to other allegedly comparable groups of prisoners, namely Indeterminate Custodial Sentence prisoners and Extended Custodial Sentence prisoners. The High Court in Northern Ireland dismissed his application for judicial review and the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland dismissed his appeal. He now appeals to the Supreme Court.

Judgment appealed

[2021] NICA 68



Stephen Hilland


(1) Department of Justice
(2) Secretary of State for Justice (Ministry of Justice)



Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs, Lord Sales, Lord Burrows, Lord Stephens

Hearing start date

4 October 2023

Hearing finish date

4 October 2023

Watch hearing
4 October 2023 Morning session Afternoon session

Judgment details

Judgment date

7 February 2024

Neutral citation

[2024] UKSC 4

Watch Judgment summary
7 February 2024 Judgment summary