Supreme Court gives further false imprisonment decision
25 May 2011
The Supreme Court has now given its decision in R (Kambadzi) v Home Secretary  UKSC 23. The appeal, in which Robin Tam QC appeared with Martin Chamberlain for the Home Secretary, was heard by the Court in February 2010, but judgment was deferred until after a 9-judge panel of the Court had heard and decided R (Lumba) v Home Secretary, in which judgment was given on 23 March 2011 (see website news item for that date).
In Kambadzi, the Court decided by a 3-2 majority that the Home Secretary's failure to carry out reviews of the detention of an individual person held under immigration powers, as required by the Home Secretary's detention policy, meant that the individual was falsely imprisoned. Unless a proper review was conducted of the question whether the person should still be detained, the subsequent period of detention would not be lawful.
The minority would have held that the omission of the detention reviews, while unlawful in public law because that was a breach of the detention policy, did not mean that the tort of false imprisonment had been established.
Because the full facts of the appellant's own case had not yet been fully established, the Court remitted the question of damages to the High Court. However, the Court recognised that if the appellant would not have been released from detention if the omitted reviews had actually been conducted, the appellant would only be entitled to nominal damages.