Garden Court Chambers has been at the forefront of human rights issues arising in litigation for the past 40 years. We reject the Consultation Paper’s premise of over-reliance upon Strasbourg authority by domestic courts in relation to rights-based claims brought before them. We believe that on the whole, the relationship between the domestic courts and the ECtHR works well. It is a symbiotic one, with each informing and improving the other. We see no need to amend the HRA, which ensures rights-compliant decision making whilst respecting Parliamentary sovereignty.
The Government’s proposed reforms focus largely on restricting Convention rights in a new Bill of Rights, making Convention rights harder to enforce and limiting recovery for breach of those rights. Critically, the evidence base underlying the concerns said to motivate the proposed reforms to the HRA, is in large part lacking.
Our view is that the Government’s proposed reforms will result in a poorer quality of public decision making, will insulate the Government from accountability and will make it harder for individuals to enforce their rights. In all cases, the proposed reforms will result in individuals with meritorious claims facing an increase in the cost and length of litigation. They will be forced to bring cases to the ECtHR against the UK government, likely increasing the number of Strasbourg judgments adverse to the UK and causing damage to our reputation on the international stage.
We do not think that the Government is truly concerned with rights protection or preserving Parliamentary sovereignty; the recent government’s repeated attempts to pass controversial legislation at speed or through extensive use of delegated powers make that clear. Instead, the Government aims to increase the power of the executive whilst reducing its accountability, at the expense of the ordinary citizen.
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