In June 2022, the UK Government proposed a Bill of Rights which was intended to replace the Human Rights Act 1998. The Human Rights Act affords us all with fundamental rights and freedoms by enshrining the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The introduction of the Bill of Rights would have been to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and therefore render that any breaches of the ECHR would no longer be enforceable in the UK. However, the government have now announced that this piece of legislation will no longer be going ahead.
What were the proposed changes in the Bill of Rights legislation?
The intention to replace this with the Bill of Rights can only be viewed as a measure to substantially decrease the number of human rights claims being considered by the UK Courts. This can be seen in the form of some of the following proposed changes:
- prohibiting courts from finding a public body owes a positive obligation.
- removing the duty of courts to consider how the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR) has interpreted a right.
- introducing a new permission stage, requiring claimants to prove they have (or would) suffer significant disadvantage as a result of a breach of their rights before they can take their claim to court.
- higher threshold for challenges to deportation for foreign national offenders based on the right to private and family life.
One would think that the Bill of Rights’ purpose should be to strengthen the fundamental rights that we all enjoy, thanks to the Human Rights Act, and the substantial case law developed over the years. Instead, it appeared the purpose of this was to limit and restrict.
The proposal received widespread criticism, with a number of organizations calling for the plans to be scrapped. Today, the government has announced that they will no longer proceed with the Bill of Rights. The Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has confirmed that after ‘having carefully considered the Government’s legislative program in the round’ they will no longer be proceeding with his predecessor, Dominic Raab’s proposed Bill of Rights.
The decision was inevitable, and we welcome confirmation that such plans have been scrapped. The Human Rights Act affords all with protection and long may it continue.
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