R (on the application of Idira) v Secretary of State for the Home Department

Judge: Court of Appeal (Master of the Rolls, The President of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Lord Justice McCombe)

Citation: [2015] EWCA Civ 1187


This case, from the immigration context, concerns a claim for unlawful detention contrary to Article 5(1) ECHR.

The appellant was an Algerian national whose leave to remain in the UK had expired. He was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for theft and sent to a prison. Once the custodial part of his sentence was over, he remained in prison before being moved to an immigration detention centre. The issue was whether the applicant’s continued detention in a prison, rather than an immigration removal centre, was unlawful and in breach of his rights under article 5(1).

The Court of Appeal, interpreting the authorities, reached the view that the task of the national court is to decide whether the place and conditions of detention are suitable and appropriate. In this particular context, the Court of Appeal held that immigration detention in a prison rather than an immigration removal centre was not generally contrary to article 5(1).


This case is interesting for what it says about the conditions of detention under Article 5(1). The appropriateness of place and conditions are relevant criteria for determining whether detention is arbitrary. This reasoning applies equally to detention in the context of, for example, a care home or hospital setting, under Article 5(1)(e) (lawful detention of persons of unsound mind). Indeed, in reaching its conclusion on the law, the Court of Appeal referred to a number of Article 5(1)(e) cases including Ashingdale v United Kingdom(1985) 7 EHRR 528. In that case, the European Court of Human Rights made clear that “there must be some relationship between the ground of permitted deprivation of liberty relied on and the place and conditions of detention. In principle, the “detention” of a person as a mental health patient will only be “lawful” for the purposes of sub-paragraph (e) of paragraph 1 if effected in a hospital, clinic, or other appropriate institution authorised for that purpose…” The Article 5 obligation to ensure that the place and conditions of detention are suitable and appropriate chimes with a basic principle in the MCA that, in making arrangements for a deprivation of liberty, regard must be had to whether it can be achieved in a way that is less restrictive of P’s rights and freedoms.

CategoryArticle 5 ECHR - Deprivation of liberty Date


Sign up to our Mental Capacity Law Newsletter

If you would like to subscribe to our newsletters please click the link below.


Call +44 (0)20 7832 1111 for more information

Barrister portfolio


Click the + icon next to any barrister to add their profile to this portfolio.

Barrister Call CV Email