Impact of the Human Rights Act
Much discussion in the media – especially the print media – about the Human Rights Act and its impact on the UK is conducted in an extremely shrill tone, and is sometimes not as well informed as it should be. It is therefore worth looking out for more sober appraisals of the working of the legislation. The Ministry of Justice publishes a (more or less) annual survey – both of cases where the UK government has been taken before the European Court on Human rights, and where the UK Courts have made declarations of incompatibility. The latest of these reports was published in September 2011.
This shows that the number of cases where the UK is a party before the ECtHR is very small (though the issues are important – e.g. the case on the voting rights of prisoners), and that there have been very few declarations of incompatibility – only 27 in 10 years, about half of which were not supported by the Supreme Court (formerly House of Lords).
The review of recent developments can be seen at http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/publications/policy/moj/responding-to-human-rights-judgments.pdf
The current review by the Commission on a Bill of Rights http://www.justice.gov.uk/about/cbr/index.htm is specifically required not to consider the withdrawal by the UK Government from its obligations under the convention. But it has recently published interim advice to Government supporting the view that the Strasbourg Court is in need of serious reform if it is not to grind to a complete halt. The advice may be seen at http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/about/cbr/cbr-court-reform-interim-advice.pdf