Doughty Street Chambers: Submission to Independent Human Rights Act Review

Doughty St Public Law Team’s response to the IHRAR call for evidence can be read here.

While we welcome the opportunity to respond our submissions question whether the Review is necessary at all.   

The Human Rights Act 1998 has made an invaluable contribution to the constitutional settlement of the UK and the protection of individual rights. This much should be beyond doubt. The Act has worked to help secure the rights of many of the most vulnerable and ostracised in our society.  There is no evidence the Act it is not operating as Parliament intended: bringing rights home and respecting Parliamentary sovereignty.

From women seeking to protect their right to reproductive autonomy free from discrimination to bereaved families seeking the truth about the deaths of their loved ones following failures by the State; from the protection of the right to protest and the right to fair trial and from the rights of children and adults with disabilities to the rights of those accused of the most serious of crimes, the impact of the Act on the protection of individual rights in the UK is undeniable.

Any question about the impact and the operation of the Human Rights Act cannot and should not be detached from the role the Act plays in the devolution settlement and in the obligations arising from the Good Friday Agreement. The role which the public duty to act compatibly with Convention rights has made on respecting rights in public decision making – and resolving disputes without recourse to the Courts – should not be ignored.