A and Others v UK [2009] (Belmarsh Case)

A and Others v UK [2009] (Belmarsh Case)

A and Others v United Kingdom [2009] 49 EHRR 2, commonly referred to as the Belmarsh case, is a landmark case decided by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in 2009. The case involved a group of individuals who were arrested and detained in HM Prison Belmarsh by the UK government without trial or charge as part of its counter-terrorism efforts.

The backdrop of the case revolves around the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, during which the UK government, perceiving a threat to national security, enacted the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. This legislation allowed the government to detain non-UK nationals without charge or trial if they were suspected of being involved in terrorism and could not be deported due to the risk of ill-treatment in their home countries.

The core contention in the case was the derogation from Article 5 of the ECHR, prompted by the perceived public emergency threatening the life of the nation. The derogation, justifying extended detention powers, was challenged before the House of Lords. In December 2004, the House of Lords found the detention scheme disproportionate, leading to a declaration of incompatibility with the Human Rights Act and the subsequent repeal of the 2001 Act in March 2005.

Although the House of Lords held in favour of the detainees in A and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2004] and subsequent declaration of incompatibility did not render invalid the acts of detention and application of Section 23 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. The detainees remained in detention and appealed their case to the ECtHR.

The detainees argued that their detention was a violation of their right to liberty and security under Article 5 of the ECHR. They also argued that the use of the 2001 Act to detain them was discriminatory, as it only applied to non-UK nationals.

The ECtHR held that the use of the 2001 Act to detain the individuals was a violation of their right to liberty and security. The court found that the detention was arbitrary and disproportionate, as there was no evidence that the individuals posed a specific threat to national security or that there was any other compelling reason to justify their detention.

The case was significant in establishing that the use of detention without charge or trial in the context of counter-terrorism efforts must be based on individualised suspicion and must be proportionate to the threat posed by the individual. The case also underscored the importance of non-discrimination in the application of counter-terrorism measures, and the need to ensure that such measures do not disproportionately affect individuals on the basis of their nationality or other personal characteristics.
Back to blog
UOL Case Bank

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
INSEAD
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law

    Terminology

    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

    Exam-focused

    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.