Philip Havers QC and Shaheen Rahman QC have appeared in the Supreme Court on behalf of the appellant in this landmark case regarding the application of the smoking ban in prisons. Philip Havers QC and Shaheen Rahman QC are instructed by Sean Humber of Leigh Day.

The Appellant, Mr Black, is a prisoner in HMP Wymott. He complains that the legal ban on smoking in public places introduced by the Health Act 2006 is not being enforced in common parts of the prison. He argues that prisoners should have confidential and anonymous access to the NHS Smoke-Free Compliance line, which enables members of the public to report breaches of the law to the local authority. The Respondent, the Secretary of State, has refused this request, arguing that it would serve no purpose as the Act does not bind the Crown, which administers the prison.

Mr Black was successful at first instance, but on appeal the Court of Appeal accepted the Respondent’s argument that the Crown was not bound by the Act.

In the Supreme Court, Philip Havers QC and Shaheen Rahman QC argued that the Crown is bound by the Health Act by necessary implication, since the purpose of the Act would be frustrated if it did not apply to Crown premises, including to state prisons.

The case raises an important constitutional question as to when the Crown can be bound by an Act of Parliament where it has not been expressly named.

For more details see:

  • Secretary of State for Justice v Black [2016] EWCA Civ 125, Court of Appeal judgement here.
  • R (Black) v Secretary of State for Justice [2015] EWHC 528 (Admin) High Court judgement here.