In the News

Law in the News: UK Bill of Rights stopped in its tracks

Sarah Sharp

30th October 2022

As outlined in this BBC news article the former Prime Minister, Liz Truss, halted the proposed reform to the Human Rights Act 1998 just before its Second Reading.

The brainchild of former Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, the proposed UK Bill of Rights created a new stage in proceedings, where if individuals wish to challenge human rights legislation, they have to request permission. This would also have given outright supremacy to UK courts allowing them to ignore rulings from the European Court of Human Rights. There was concern that this could severely restrict judges’ powers of interpretation and citizen’s rights to bring a judicial review of proceedings.

Widespread criticism had been levelled at this proposed change to the law for attempting to weaken the protection afforded by human rights legislation, discriminating against the vulnerable. It was also seen that this would violate international human rights protection and empower the Executive to cherry-pick which rights to follow.

The proposed UK Bill of Rights also faced criticisms from the Scottish Parliament who stated it undermined devolution. There were additional concerns over proposals to change the law surrounding abortion, and rather than it being decriminalised in specific circumstances, there would be a right to an abortion. Overall, the revised legislation was criticised for being poorly drafted. Now, however it looks as though this has been shelved long-term.

However, Human Rights will need to be revisited by the new Prime Minister and his Cabinet as there have been Human Rights challenges to the UKs proposals to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, with this case due to be heard later this year.

Further reading

The Guardian, UK ministers ignored evidence Rwanda violated human rights, court told

Key Discussion:

  • Do we need to reform the Human Rights Act 1998? If so, which parts?
  • How could reform take place whilst ensuring key protections are not lost?
  • What aspects of the UK Bill of Rights do you feel are positive, which aspects do you feel are negative?

Sarah Sharp

Sarah is an experienced A-Level and BTEC Law teacher and examiner. Sarah is Subject Lead for Law at tutor2u, leading the team developing online and print resources for A-Level and BTEC Law courses.

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