Parliamentary Committee opposes Bill of Rights

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
31 January 2023

The current Government is fixated on reforming the Human Rights Act and introducing instead a Bill of Rights. The Law Society is concerned that the Bill of Rights will damage the Rule of law and make it harder for people to protect their rights. The Bill of Rights was introduced to Parliament in June 2022 and it will repeal and replace the Human Rights Act 1998 which incorporates and makes the rights contained in the European Convention of Human Rights domestically enforceable.

It will retain the Convention rights, as well as the ability to be enforced in the domestic Courts and it will not alter the UK’s membership of the ECHR and the obligation it places on Government to secure the full range of Convention rights for everyone in the UK. However, it will remove provisions of the Human Rights Act and introduce a large number of new measures.

One of the measures of particular concern to us as Human Rights Lawyer and immigration specialists is that it will introduce a new permission stage, requiring claimants to prove they have or would suffer significant disadvantage as a result of their breach of their rights before they can even take their case to Court. The Bill will also set a higher threshold for challenge to deportation for foreign national offenders based on their rights to private and family life.

It will remove the duty on Courts to interpret legislation compatibly with Convention rights and by removing this duty on Courts to consider how the European Courts on human rights has interpreted the right. It will prohibit Courts from finding a public body has a positive obligation which will require the public body to take certain steps to actively protect fulfil and facilitate a right and it will require Courts to give greater weight to the views of Parliament when balancing rights issues. It will limit the interpretation of rights to a literal reading of the text of the Convention rights.

Danielle Cohen Solicitors believe in robust protection for the rights and freedoms of its clients in the UK and abroad, and help to enforce these rights in the Immigration Tribunals. The Human Rights Act strikes a balance between the democratic powers of the State and the Courts and Parliament and together with other organisations we do not believe there is a case for the reforms which are proposed in the Bill of Rights.

We are concerned that the new Bill would lower the level of protection given to human rights in the UK and will create legal uncertainty as well as reduce human rights.

On Wednesday 25th January 2023 the Joint Committee on Human Rights produced a report following the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill of Rights. The Report shows the Committee to be opposed to the Bill. After months of scrutinising the Bill the Committee stated that some of the provisions are simply unnecessary, while others are positively damaging to the enforcement and protection of human rights in the UK. The Committee summarised that the Bill not only lacked support but also caused overwhelming and widespread concern.