Skip to main content

Football banning case

The judge found that the Magistrates’ Court could not make an order under Section 14 B (4) of the Football Spectators Act 1989 limited only to certain…

Executive summary

In the recent case of The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Jamie Thorpe [2015] EWHC 3339 (Admin), Mr Justice Edis in the Administrative Court found that the Magistrates’ Court could not make an order under Section 14 B (4) of the Football Spectators Act 1989 limited only to certain football matches.   

Background

The Commissioner appealed a decision to impose a limited banning order on Mr Thorpe.  The Commissioner had applied for a three year banning order under Section 14 B (4) of the Football Spectators Act 1989.  The Magistrates’ Court issued an order but limited it to regulated football matches involving three named teams; Fulham, Chelsea, and Brentford. The question was whether the Magistrates’ Court could make such a limited order.

Mr Thorpe’s legal team argued that any interference with his right to a private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had to be the least that would meet the legitimate aim of preventing football violence at football matches.  It was submitted that if Mr Thorpe did not pose a risk at certain games, it would be disproportionate and therefore unlawful to ban him from all regulated football matches. 

Mr Justice Edis found that the Magistrates Court had no power to make a limited order under the Act.  If it was proved that a person had, at any time, caused or contributed to any disorder or violence in the UK or elsewhere and the court was satisfied that there were reasonable grounds to believe that a banning order would prevent violence or disorder, the order could be made but it had to relate to all UK regulated football matches.

It was found that even if Article 8 was engaged, the interference was lawful as necessary for the prevention of crime and disorder.

Comment

This case looks at the limits on the power of Magistrates under the Act when making such orders.  If the test is met then any order made by the court must relate to all regulated football matches.  It is hoped that this will act as a powerful deterrent against football violence and disorder.