What is the future for the Human Rights Act?

Charmaine Watkins (Student)

In October 2020, the Government released a statement proposing that the Human Rights Act would be reviewed and reformed, if necessary. Sir Peter Gross, a retired Court of Appeal judge along with eight other senior lawyers and academics have been announced as being the panel who will be reviewing the current Human Rights Act.  

What is the Human Rights Act? 

The Human Rights Act sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to. It includes the rights set out in the European Convention of Human Rights and embodies that into domestic UK law. This came into force in 2000. The Act has three main effects: to seek justice in UK courts, for public bodies to respect the rights and for new laws to be compatible with the convention of rights.  

The Lord Chancellor, Robert Bucknall has recently said that is time ‘to take a fresh look at the Human Rights Act, to see how its provisions are operating and consider whether the framework could be improved’. This review will be happening in the summer of 2021. He has said that the government does not have any preconceived ideas and that there are some areas which need to be focused on during the review.  

What will be considered in the review? 

  • The relationship between domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights
  • The impact that the Human Rights Act has on the relationship between the judiciary, executive and parliament and whether domestic courts are being unduly drawn into areas of policy 
  • The way that the Act impacts outside the territory of the UK 

This announcement also stated that the UK will remain committed to the European Convention on Human Rights as the review is limited to the framework of the Act rather than the Rights themselves.  

This announcement of the review however has come under criticism from other political parties, with members of the Labour party saying “unlike the conservatives, Labour is proud of this country’s leading role in  developing Human Rights following the second world war. There is no need for a review into the rights and freedoms that underpin out democracy and all of us enjoy”.

David Greene, the President of the Law Society has defended this by saying: “the rights enshrined in the Act are core to the UK’s identify as a democratic, fair and just nation. These core values will be front and centre for the panel whose jobs will be to ensure that they are not rolled back or compromised.” 

Despite the criticisms the review will still be taking place in summer 2021, however, until then, the Act will still be functioning in the way it has for the past 20 years.  

At Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) we offer free legal advice on human right related matters. If you wish to book an appointment with us call 01782 294 800 or alternatively email SULAC@staffs.ac.uk    




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