Higgins Hollywood Deazley Defending the Rights of Clients

17 April 2013

At Higgins Hollywood Deazley, defending the rights of our clients, at every stage of their case, is paramount to what we do.

In December 2012, this involved launching High Court proceedings against a private individual and the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service to prevent the identification of our client following his sentence at Belfast Crown Court.  This involved emergency injunction proceedings being launched at the High Court in Belfast late on a Friday evening following a lengthy hearing at Belfast Crown Court.

As our Solicitor Charlene Graham, describes:

"The commitment to our clients does not end when their case ends.  It only ends when there has been a satisfactory resolution to all the issues that may affect that client".

This case was of particular importance as it concerned the protection of the most supreme of human rights, the right to life.  The central issue argued by us on our client's behalf was that the right to life under article 2 of the ECHR, protected in domestic law by the Human Rights Act 1998 afforded him/her a remedy of an injunction restraining publication of any information which might disclose his/her identity.

An emergency injunction was obtained at the first hearing to the relief of our client and his/her family.  However, this was met with opposition from various media organisations who sought to "intervene" in the proceedings, with a view to persuading the Court, through legal argument, to lift the anonymity previously granted.

Legal Issues

This case involved legal argument surrounding and individual's article 2 Right to life set against Article 10, the right of freedom of expression underpinned by the principle of open justice.

The Court was presented with cogent medical evidence which opined that if publication were made that lead to the client's identity, there was a "real" risk of suicide.  As such, the outcome of this case was of crucial importance to all involved.

Upon consideration of the jurisprudence or case law in this area, it became apparent that they had been brought in a retrospective framework.  In other words, they consider what the state or public authority (typically the police) should have done to prevent the death of the individual.  In the present case, the Court was being asked to consider a future risk of death to the individual concerned.  For that reason, the Judge referred to this case as being "unprecedented in this jurisdiction". 

The Judge, the Honourable Mr Justice McCloskey concluded:

"The right to life is absolute.  It has consistently been described as sacrosanct, fundamental, supreme and inviolable."

On the right to freedom of expression, he concluded:

"This does not entail emasculation of this supremely important principle.  Rather it involves an adjustment, a limited dilution, which the principle ({of open justice} itself permits, necessitated by the Court's evaluation of the Article 2 issues."

Following a two day hearing at the High Court we were relieved to achieve the outcome hoped for on behalf of our client.

To read the judgement in full, please follow the link www.courtsni.co.uk

If you require advice on issues surrounding Human Rights law please complete the form below.

Charlene Graham - Solicitor

For further information and advice please contact one of our team:

028 90770770



Disclaimer: No information in this article shall be construed as legal advice. The information is offered for general purposes only based on the current law when the information was first displayed on this website. You should always seek advice from an appropriately qualified solicitor on any specific legal enquiry.


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