Courts Take ‘Common Sense Approach’ To Criminal Records

Government Urged To Adopt ‘Proportionate’ Measures Following Appeal Ruling


A Court of Appeal ruling that legislation requiring people to disclose all previous convictions to certain employers is a human rights breach is a “common sense approach” to the issue, according to a public law expert.

In relation to the case of T, three judges stated today (January 29th) that disclosure provisions in the Police Act 1997 and an order in relation to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 are not compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights Act – the right to a private and family life.

The case specifically relates to a job applicant who had to disclose warnings given to him by police when he was 11, in relation to stolen bicycles.

It is now believed the decision may mean those applying for positions may not have to disclose all details regarding a criminal record when doing so. The government is expected to challenge the ruling.

Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law team have vast experience in areas including humans rights, health and social care, helping people to gain justice and answers over problems they have faced in relation to the issues.

Commenting on today’s ruling, Nancy Collins, a human rights expert in Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law team, said: “This is a welcome judgment and an illustration of the courts adopting a common sense approach to the thorny issue of compulsory disclosure of criminal records.

“It demonstrates the real value of the Human Rights Act and its impact on individuals subject to unlawful State policies. It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court will grant the Government permission to appeal.

“However, it is hoped that steps will be taken to adopt a proportionate and reasonable approach to the issue of disclosure which protects an individual's right to privacy whilst also recognising the need to protect the public.

“The judgment forms part of a pattern of cases looking at the onerous and complex reporting requirements imposed on citizens who are ex-offenders.”