Belhaj v Straw MP (United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
JudgeLloyd Jones,Lady Justice Sharp,Lord Dyson MR,Lord Justice Lloyd Jones
Judgment Date30 October 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] EWCA Civ 1394
Date30 October 2014
Docket NumberCase No: A2/2014/0596

[2014] EWCA Civ 1394

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM HIGH COURT, QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

MR. JUSTICE SIMON

HQ12X02603

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Before:

MASTER OF THE ROLLS

Lord Justice Lloyd Jones

and

Lady Justice Sharp

Case No: A2/2014/0596

Between:
(1) Abdul-Hakim Belhaj
(2) Fatima Boudchar
Claimants/Appellants
and
(1) The Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP
(2) Sir Mark Allen CMG
(3) The Secret Intelligence Service
(4) The Security Service
(5) The Attorney General
(6) The Foreign & Commonwealth Office
(7) The Home Office
Defendants/Respondents

and

(1) United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture
(2) United Nations Chair-Rapporteur on Arbitrary Detention
(3) The International Commission of Jurists
(4) Justice
(5) Amnesty International
(6) Redress
Interveners

Richard Hermer QC, Ben Jaffey and Maria Roche (instructed by Leigh Day and Company) for the Appellants

Rory Phillips QC, Sam Wordsworth QC, Karen Steyn QC and Peter Skelton (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) for the Respondents

Natalie Lieven QC, Shane Sibbel and Ravi Mehta (instructed by Bhatt Murphy) for the First and Second Interveners

Martin Chamberlain QC and Zahra Al-Rikabi (instructed by Harpreet K Paul of The Redress Trust) for the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Interveners

1

Hearing dates: 21 st, 22 nd & 23 rd July 2014

2

Approved Judgment

3

Paragraph

I. INTRODUCTION

1

The proceedings

2

The factual assertions forming the basis of the claim

7

The appellants' pleaded case

8

The respondents' pleaded cases

18

The legal basis of the claim

20

The judgment of Simon J.

25

The grounds of appeal and respondents' notice

Act of state

28

Applicable law

29

State immunity

30

Summary of conclusions on this appeal

31

II. STATE IMMUNITY

32

Direct and indirect impleader

33

The respondents' case on their notice to affirm

37

The UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their Property

43

State immunity and act of state

48

III. ACT OF STATE / NON-JUSTICIABILITY

Act of state in the law of England and Wales

51

The rationale of the act of state doctrine

56

Is the act of state doctrine engaged in the present case? The Kirkpatrick limitation

69

Do the alleged acts have the character of sovereign acts?

78

A limitation on grounds of public policy: violation of international law or fundamental human rights

English jurisprudence

81

Other common law jurisdictions

94

Potential to disrupt international relations

103

Decision on the act of state issue

114

Article 6, ECHR

122

Article 14, UN Convention against Torture

124

The territoriality limitation

127

IV. APPLICABLE LAW

134

V. CONCLUSION

161

THE MASTER OF THE ROLLS
4

THE MASTER OF THE ROLLS:

5

I. INTRODUCTION

6

1. This is the judgment of the court to which all its members have contributed but which has been drafted principally by Lloyd Jones L.J.

7

The proceedings

8

2. In these proceedings the appellants seek a declaration of illegality and damages arising from what they contend was the participation of the respondents in their unlawful abduction, kidnapping and removal to Libya in March 2004. The claim includes allegations that they were unlawfully detained and/or mistreated in China, Malaysia, Thailand and Libya, and on board a US registered aircraft. It is alleged that their detention and mistreatment was carried out by agents of China, Malaysia, Thailand, Libya and the United States of America. The claim pleads the following causes of action: false imprisonment, trespass to the person, conspiracy to injure, conspiracy to use unlawful means, negligence and misfeasance in public office.

9

3. The first appellant, Mr. Belhaj, is a Libyan citizen who is also known as Abu Abdallah Assadaq and Abdullah Sadeq. The second appellant, Mrs. Boudchar, is a Moroccan citizen and is married to Mr. Belhaj. The first respondent was the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 8 June 2001 to 5 May 2006. As such, he was the Minister responsible for the Secret Intelligence Service. The appellants allege that the second respondent, Sir Mark Allen, was at all material times the Director of Counter-Terrorism of the Secret Intelligence Service, the third respondent. (His status has not been confirmed or denied.) The fourth respondent is the Security Service. The fifth respondent is the Attorney General who is joined pursuant to section 17(3) of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947. The appellants maintain that the sixth respondent, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the seventh respondent, the Home Office, are the appropriate defendants in civil proceedings relating to the acts of officials and servants or agents of those Departments of State.

10

4. In October 2013 the matter came before Simon J. in the Queen's Bench Division for the determination of two preliminary issues:

(1) Should the claims set out in the Particulars of Claim (with the exception of certain claims in negligence) be dismissed under CPR 3.1.(2) (l) on the basis that the court lacks jurisdiction and/or that the claims are non-justiciable?

(2) Insofar as the claims are not dismissed, what are the applicable laws for determining the appellants' causes of action?

11

5. On the first issue the judge dismissed the plea of state immunity but accepted, with hesitation, that the act of state doctrine operated as a bar to the claims. Accordingly he concluded that the claims, with the exception of certain claims in negligence, should be struck out. On the second issue he concluded that without prejudice to subsequent reliance on section 14 of the Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995 (“the 1995 Act”), the appellants' causes of action were governed by the law of the place where the alleged conduct took place.

12

6. The appellants now appeal to this court against the rulings on act of state and applicable law. The respondents seek to uphold the order below on the additional ground of state immunity, as appears from the respondents' notice.

13

The factual assertions forming the basis of the claim.

14

7. It must be emphasised that the hearings below and on this appeal have been conducted on the basis of the pleadings lodged by the parties. As matters stand these are no more than allegations.

15

The appellants' pleaded case.

16

8. In the 1990s Mr. Belhaj was involved in a Libyan group opposed to Colonel Gaddafi and in 1998 he was forced to flee to Afghanistan. In 2003 he moved to China to evade detection by the Libyan intelligence agencies. In about June 2003 Mr. Belhaj married Mrs. Boudchar, who subsequently moved to China to live with him. In early 2004 they became concerned that they were no longer safe in China and decided to seek asylum in the United Kingdom. In February 2004, at which time Mrs. Boudchar was approximately four months pregnant, they tried to take a commercial flight from Beijing to London. They were detained at Beijing airport by Chinese border authorities for two days before being deported to Kuala Lumpur. On arrival in Malaysia they were taken by Malaysian officials to the Sepang Immigration Detention Centre where they were detained for approximately two weeks.

17

9. It is alleged that the respondents became aware that the appellants were being detained in Malaysia. On 1 March 2004 the Secret Intelligence Service informed the Libyan intelligence services where the appellants were being held. On 4 March 2004 the US Government became aware of the appellants' detention in Malaysia and a plan was then formulated to abduct the appellants and transfer them to Libyan custody without any form of judicial process. On 4 March 2004 US officials sent two faxes to the Libyan authorities. The first stated that US authorities were working with the Malaysian Government to effect the extradition of Mr. Belhaj from Malaysia and to arrange his transfer to US custody. It stated that once they had Mr. Belhaj in custody “we will be very happy to service your debriefing requirements and we will share the information with you”. The second fax indicated that US officials were committed to rendering Mr. Belhaj to Libyan custody. It is alleged that on the 6 March the US sent two further faxes to the Libyan authorities. The first was entitled “Planning for the Capture Rendition of [Mr. Belhaj]”. It explained that the Malaysian Government had informed the US authorities that they were putting the appellants on a commercial flight from Kuala Lumpur to London via Bangkok on the evening of 7 March 2004. It stated that the US authorities were planning to arrange to “take control” of the appellants in Bangkok and place them on “our aircraft for a flight to your country”.

18

10. In response to the appellants' repeated requests that they be allowed to travel to the United Kingdom they were told by the Malaysian authorities that they could travel to the United Kingdom only via Bangkok. On the evening of 7 March 2004 they boarded a commercial flight from Kuala Lumpur bound for London via Bangkok. Upon arrival at Bangkok they were removed from the plane by Thai officials and separated. Mrs. Boudchar alleges that she was taken to a van containing US agents who pulled her into the van, forced her onto a bench, blindfolded and bound her. Later she was forced out of the van into a building where she was placed in a cell where she was bound to two hooks. She alleges ill treatment during her detention. After a period of time she was hooded and bound in a painful manner and taped tightly to a stretcher. She was driven to a nearby building where she was released from the stretcher but her eyes and ears remained covered. She was punched in the belly. She was then injected...

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