In R (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis) v Central Criminal Court & (1) Guilfoyle & (2) Crown Prosecution Service. the High Court quashed an order purporting to lift a sex offender’s notification requirements as the Central Criminal Court had no power to make the order.

Sections 91A and 91B of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 form part of the new regime for the review of indefinite notification requirements for sex offenders. In outline:

The new regime came into effect on 30th July 2012.

Mr Guilfoyle had originally been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for an indecent assault on his estranged wife, and was made subject to an indefinite notification requirement on his release from prison. He applied for a review of the order before the 15 years had elapsed, and the correct parties were not notified of his application. Although the Court accepted that he had ‘turned his life around’, the judge lifting the order plainly did not have jurisdiction to do so. However, the applicant was very late in applying for judicial review (the application was not being lodged until 11 months after the original decision).

Despite being very critical of the delay – calling it ‘lamentable’ – the High Court had little doubt that the order had to be quashed. The High Court relied upon two important principles:

The last point of significance is that the High Court confirmed that, although the order had to be quashed, it nevertheless had been a valid order for the 11 months for which it had been in place. This emphasises the important principle that Court orders that are apparently valid on their face must be complied with, even if it seems obvious that it could be correctly challenged.