Commission disappointed with Supreme Court decision on Serco appeal

The UK Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal in the case Ali v Serco Group Plc. The Supreme Court has ordered that the application does not raise an arguable point of law.

The Commission is disappointed that the Supreme Court will not hear this appeal. 

The Commission acted as an intervener in the permission to appeal which we believe raises important issues about the protection of human rights where services are delivered by private contractors.  

While each situation is different, the implications of the Court of Session’s judgment in November are nonetheless concerning for the protection of human rights in public services. The Commission notes the Court of Session’s interpretation of case law on the application of the Human Rights Act in the context of contracted out services. However, we believe there remains a lack of clarity in this area of law. In our view, this would have benefited from consideration and further clarification from the Supreme Court.

We continue to believe that further work is needed to address the important question of how people’s rights are adequately protected when public services are delivered at arms-length from the state.

To ensure clarity in practice, the state (including Scottish public bodies) should make human rights obligations explicit in relevant contracting arrangements with third parties, ensuring that contracts are appropriately monitored.


Notes to Editors:

1. The Commission previously intervened in Ali v Serco and the Secretary of State for the Home Department setting out its analysis and concerns about the human rights issues raised.

2. Govan Law Centre has also commented on the outcome of the application to appeal to the Supreme Court.