On 22 January 2024 at the County Court at Plymouth, District Judge Leach held that the Parole Board was liable for delaying Mr Robert’s parole board review.

The Claimant was an IPP prisoner whose parole review had been delayed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Professional reports recommended his release in December 2019; however, by the time of his oral hearing target date, his case had only just been directed to an oral hearing. His hearing was subject to several delays due to the inability of the Parole Board to list his case during the pandemic. It was not until March 2021 that the Parole Board directed his release on the papers.

The Parole Board, in pre-action correspondence, admitted liability for three months and offered to pay the Claimant £1,406.08 in damages for loss of liberty. It denied any further period and put the Claimant to proof that he had suffered any anxiety and/or distress because of the delay.

In a comprehensive judgment, the court held that:

  1. On the balance of probabilities, the earliest the Claimant could have been released was from May 2020.
  2. The Parole Board was liable for the breach of the Claimant’s article 5(4) rights for a period of 9 months and 23 days.
  3. An award of damages was necessary for the purposes of just satisfaction in accordance with s.8 Human Rights Act 1998.
  4. On the basis of the awards as set out in R(Sturnham and Faulkner) v Parole Board (No 1) [2013] 2 AC 254 the Claimant was entitled to £6,333 in damages.
  5. Crucially the court held that the damages as set out in Sturnham and Faulkner should be adjusted to take into account inflation.
  6. The Defendant was ordered to pay the Claimant £8,363 in damages, nearly five times more than the initial offer from the Parole Board.


It is rare that these types of cases go to trial. The court’s judgment is an important reminder for practitioners to think carefully before accepting low offers made by the Parole Board. It is now clear that the awards in Sturnham and Faulkner should be increased to bring them in line with current levels of inflation. Not only will this assist in obtaining higher levels of damages for clients it will also assist in securing legal aid funding.

Stuart Withers represented the Claimant. He was instructed by Craig Sinclair of InstaLaw Solicitors.