The UK government’s mellowing toward Strasbourg?

goveThe [uncorrected*] transcript of the evidence from the Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, taken before Parliament’s (in the fact the House of Lords’) EU Justice Sub-Committee (2 February 2016) was published the other day. As others (see Dr Merris Amos) have noted, the answers supplied by Mr Gove would seem to reflect a real mellowing of the UK government’s position with respect to ‘Convention rights’ and the Strasbourg Court, which could be reflected in a proposed UK/British Bill of Rights that is, in fact, remarkably similar to the current Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA).

Indeed, in response to Mr Gove’s evidence the Chairman of the Committee (Baroness Kennedy) suggested that the proposed UK/British Bill of Rights sounded like it would be ‘putting on a gloss rather than making a radical change’ and that ‘all the same rights will be there, save for a few bits of tweaking, and essentially a gloss will be put on things’. Mr Gove did not reject the comment, and seemed to largely agree.

Of course, we still await the government’s proposals for a UK/British Bill of Rights, so we shall have to wait to see if they reflect this new, changed mood and if it really will be the HRA with some airbrushing or a slight ‘makeover’. (As to when we will get the proposals, Mr Gove said, two weeks ago, ‘there will not be too long to wait’).

The aim of this post is to (i) briefly comment on the background, and how a change of heart, if that is what it proves to be, should be viewed; and then (ii) to set out selected extracts from Mr Gove’s evidence , so that readers can draw their own conclusions about the apparent change of mood (for the full transcript, see the link above). Continue reading


Eight Trends and Eight Challenges to the European Court of Human Rights – Paul Harvey

This is a fantastic blog post on some of the key jurisprudential challenges facing the Court in 2016.

UK Human Rights Blog


The opening of the Strasbourg Court’s judicial year every January always provides an opportunity for reflection on the themes and challenges which will define the Court’s jurisprudence for the coming year. This year, the theme of the seminar held at the Court to mark that opening was “International and national courts confronting large-scale violations of human rights””. I should like to offer eight predictions as to the other themes which will define the work of the Strasbourg Court this year. Given the Court’s pending caseload is still over 64,000 cases, these predictions are necessarily impressionistic. It will be for readers to judge whether, by this time next year, they have proven accurate.

(1) Security

The Court will continue to grapple with the security situation in Eastern Europe. Foremost on its docket are the inter-state cases involving Russia and Ukraine, but the Grand Chamber will also return to…

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‘The Convention under threat’ (Secretary General of the CoE)

SG_43833_06‘… despite our many reforms to improve our Convention system over recent years, it faces a growing political threat’

– these are the words of the Council of Europe’s Secretary General, Mr Thorbjørn Jagland, in a speech delivered a week or so ago to the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE.

The speech referred to the storm clouds that seem to be gathering around the Convention based on a mood of national ‘push-back’, if not downright resistance to the Convention’s implementation – in some States at least. And if the Secretary General considered it appropriate to devote a key part of this speech to this, then we do need to sit up and take notice.

I wanted to draw attention to this speech, which Continue reading