Prisoners’ rights

Garden Court prison law barristers provide the highest quality representation to those detained in prison and those released into the community post-sentence.

Our strength lies in our inter-disciplinary expertise. As the largest chambers in London with over 180 barristers, we can offer an unrivalled breadth and depth of related expertise from our core practice teams.

The work of our prison law barristers inevitably crosses over with that of our Public Law team and post-release, with that of our Community Care team.

In cases where individuals have been unlawfully detained or suffered discrimination, our barristers who specialise in claims against the police and public authorities can assist you.

Garden Court Chambers won the Human Rights and Public Law Set of the Year Award at the Chambers and Partners UK Bar Awards 2016.

Our expertise

Garden Court has a strong reputation for advising those whose rights are particularly at risk in detention including children and young people, and adults suffering with mental illness and other disabilities.

We have long been involved in challenging infringements to prisoners’ rights, through first instance representation at Parole Boards and adjudication hearings, as well as judicial review challenges in the Administrative Court.

Our prison law barristers have also undertaken a series of cutting edge challenges before the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights seeking justice for those held in detention. Our criminal appeals team also regularly advise on statutory compensation claims for miscarriages of justice, as well as out of time appeals against conviction and sentence.

We advise clients and pursue legal challenges on a range of prison law matters including:

  • Human Rights Act challenges
  • Security categorisation and re-categorisation decisions
  • Prison conditions, treatment and policy
  • Access to prison Mother & Baby Units
  • Representation before the Parole Board and Independent Adjudicator
  • Release and recall
  • Licence conditions
  • Sentence (mis)calculation
  • Statutory compensation following miscarriages of justice
  • Conviction and sentence appeals, including out of time appeals and appeals following CCRC referrals
  • Damages claims against the Ministry of Justice for unlawful detention and discrimination

To find out more about how we can help in your case, contact contact Dan Randall, Civil Practice Manager, on 020 7092 8329 or

What Others Say

“Members of Garden Court Chambers are very good at representing vulnerable clients with complex needs.” Legal 500

“Garden Court Chambers boasts an impressive selection of silks and juniors offering broad-ranging expertise in the field of civil liberties and human rights. The set enjoys a strong reputation for claimants challenging the actions of public bodies.” Chambers UK Bar Guide

Notable cases

Significant prison law cases from the higher courts:

R (Joanna Dennehy) v SSJ and Sodexo Ltd [2016] EWHC 1219 (Admin)
A challenge to the prolonged segregation of Joanna Dennehy (only the third woman ever to receive a whole life tariff) on statutory and ECHR grounds.

R (on the application of Whiston) v Secretary of State Justice [2014] UKSC 39
The question raised on this appeal was whether a person released from prison on HDC, and then recalled to prison under section 255 of the CJA 2003 has rights pursuant to Article 5(4) of the ECHR . More broadly, the appeal raises the issue of how far it is open to a person who is still serving a sentence imposed by a court to invoke article 5(4).

R (Gilbert) v Secretary of State for Justice & The Parole Board (Interested Party) [2015] EWHC 927 (Admin)
A successful challenge on behalf of an indeterminate prisoner to the Secretary of State’s ‘absconder’ policy which was at odds with the statutory Directions to the Parole Board and published Prison Service Instructions. The Court declared the operative part of the policy to be unlawful.

R (on the application of WB) (2) W (A Child By His Litigation Friend the OS) v SSJ [2014] EWHC  1696 (Admin)
Successful judicial review of a prison’s refusal of a place in a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) to a pregnant prisoner. The baby was taken from her at birth. Her challenge was brought on three bases, the main one being that her procedural rights under Article 8 ECHR had been breached.

R (Chester) v Secretary of State for Justice [2013] 3 W.L.R. 1076
Supreme Court followed ECtHR that blanket ban on prisoners voting is incompatible with Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 ECHR.

R (McIntyre) v Parole Board [2013] EWHC 1969 (Admin)
A challenge to the Parole Board’s policy and procedure in relation to oral hearings. The case sets out for the first time the Parole Board’s duty to keep records of parole hearings and to rectify factual mistakes which may hinder prisoners’ progression.

R (Cox) v Secretary of State for Justice [2013] EWHC 2753 (Admin)
Prisoner’s finding of guilt and additional days quashed where CCTV evidence that could have assisted his case was not made available to him.

R (JM) v Secretary of State for Justice [2013] EWHC 2465 (Admin)
Challenge to the discriminatory impact of the closure of Ashfield YOI for children in the South West being moved away from their parents.