On 17 March 2021 we filed written submissions with the European Court of Human Rights, having been given permission to intervene in this long-running case concerning compensation for miscarriage of justice.
We previously intervened in the UK Supreme Court, which by a majority, found against the appellants in 2019. The case concerns whether the amended compensation scheme for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is incompatible with the presumption of innocence, protected by Article 6(2) ECHR. The test, amended in 2014, requires an applicant to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that they did not commit the offence for which their conviction has been quashed. This is an almost impossible task.
Moreover, as our intervention makes clear, this requires applicants to fulfil yet another hurdle to receiving recognition that they should never have been convicted – a position that by this stage in the case the Criminal Cases Review Commission and Court of Appeal have accepted. Compensation cannot undo the harm caused through years of wrongful incarceration. But it can offer some recompense. By requiring innocence to be proved, the Government is casting doubt on whether the conviction should have been quashed. This clearly interferes with the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Our intervention draws attention to the way international instruments and other jurisdictions interpret the right to compensation and, most importantly, that almost all Contracting Parties to the ECHR (including Scotland and Ireland) have managed to establish tests that do not offend the presumption of innocence.