Government’s new Bill of Rights to override ECHR rulings

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on June 22nd 2022, 10:10am

The government’s plans to introduce a new Bill of Rights would enable UK ministers to ignore rulings made by the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR].

The changes will affect how the Human Rights Act is enacted in the UK and could pave the way for the revival of the government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The ECHR made headlines last week after a late ruling prevented a flight from leaving for Rwanda with a handful of asylum seekers on board.

The ruling blocked one asylum seeker from being able to board, despite UK courts having earlier ruled that the flight could go ahead. That decision led to other appeals being lodged and ultimately saw the entire flight cancelled.

Deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, has said that the new Bill of Rights will not see the UK abandon the Human Rights Act nor leave the European Convention on Human Rights, but rather solve problems within the current framework and add “a healthy dose of common sense” to the system.

Within the new Bill of Rights are measures clarifying the law for judges which ensures that UK law is placed above ECHR rulings. It will also limit the orders that courts can impose on public bodies to amend issues caused by human rights breaches, change how the right to family life is interpreted and give UK bodies the ability to ignore ECHR injunctions.

Changes to the interpretation of the right to family life would give the government greater power to deport foreign residents who criminally offend the UK, but have family in the country.

The provision which would allow ministers to ignore ECHR injunctions [Rule 39 orders], which would ensure that UK courts, public bodies and government ministers are not restricted by court rulings made in Strasbourg.

Raab said: “We will be very clear in domestic law that Rule 39 interim orders do not bind UK courts or indeed public bodies or officials.”

However, British courts are already able to ignore rulings from the ECHR, which have seen lawyers hit out at the proposals for causing confusion and potentially resulting in a dual-layered system.

Critics say that the Bill would effectively create two-tiers of rights, adding further bureaucracy and handing more power to the government to create “an acceptable class of human rights abuses” in the UK.

Ingrid Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society, said: “The Bill will create an acceptable class of human-rights abuses in the United Kingdom.

“It is a lurch backwards for British justice. Authorities may begin to consider some rights violations as acceptable, because these could no longer be challenged under the Bill of Rights, despite being against the law.

“Overall, the Bill would grant the state greater unfettered power over the people, power which would then belong to all future governments, whatever their ideologies.”

The proposals for the new Bill are being brought to Parliament today [June 22].

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
June 22nd 2022, 10:10am

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