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Tort Law write a case note on 'Watkins v Secretary of State for the Home Department and others 2004 4 All ER 1158 - Essay Example

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Tort Law write a case note on 'Watkins v Secretary of State for the Home Department and others 2004 4 All ER 1158

During this period the claimant was a serving prisoner and engaged in a variety of legal proceedings. He made frequent complaints that he was being treated by prison officers in a manner that conflicted with the requirement of r37A (or r39, as the case might be). His private legal correspondence was being made public and opened by prison officers.
Mr Watkins attempted to pursue the matter both through the formal prison complaints systems and the Prisons Ombudsman but failed to provide satisfactory explanation or evidence, and he was eventually granted legal aid to bring an action for damages in the courts. By his particulars Mr Watkins claimed damages for misfeasance in public office against the Home Office and 14 named prison officers.
Judge Ibbotson sitting in the Leeds County Court on 15 July 2003 found that three prison officers had acted in bad faith when dealing with his legally-privileged correspondence. Nevertheless the judge was not satisfied that Mr Watkins had suffered any loss or damages such as constituted an essential ingredient of the tort of misfeasance in public office. ...
During this period the claimant was a serving prisoner and engaged in a variety of legal proceedings. He made frequent complaints that he was being treated by prison officers in a manner that conflicted with the requirement of r37A (or r39, as the case might be). His private legal correspondence was being made public and opened by prison officers.
Mr Watkins attempted to pursue the matter both through the formal prison complaints systems and the Prisons Ombudsman but failed to provide satisfactory explanation or evidence, and he was eventually granted legal aid to bring an action for damages in the courts. By his particulars Mr Watkins claimed damages for misfeasance in public office against the Home Office and 14 named prison officers.
5. Nature of cause of action or claim
Judge Ibbotson sitting in the Leeds County Court on 15 July 2003 found that three prison officers had acted in bad faith when dealing with his legally-privileged correspondence. Nevertheless the judge was not satisfied that Mr Watkins had suffered any loss or damages such as constituted an essential ingredient of the tort of misfeasance in public office. Thus it was held that this tort was not actionable per se and the claim was subsequently dismissed.
The claimant appealed against the decision.
6. Outcome
Despite no proof of damage, the claimant has the right of unimpeded access to the court. The three prison officers had maliciously infringed the claimant's right to private legal correspondence, as laid out in accordance with r37A and thus the claimant's cause of action in misfeasance in public office was complete. Thus the appeal was allowed.

Legal Principles
7. Ratio decidendi
In September 1998, Prison Officer Ravenscroft informed Mr Watkins that there were two legal letters for ...Show more

Summary

Hague v Deputy Governer of Parkhurst Prison, Weldon v Home Office [1991] 3 All ER 733, sub nom R v Deputy Governor of Pankhurst Prison, ex p Hague, Weldon v Home Office [1992] 1 AC 58, [1991] 3 WLR 340, HL.
Jeffrey Shane Watkins appealed from the order of Judge Ibbotson in the Leeds County Court on 15 July 2003 dismissing his claim for damages for misfeasance in public office brought against the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Prison Officers Ravenscroft, Rosevere and Robinson, and eleven other prison officers…
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Tort Law write a case note on Watkins v Secretary of State for the Home Department and others 2004 4 All ER 1158 essay example
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