On 13 April 2022 the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights warned that Government proposals to reform the Human Rights Act risk weakening existing human rights protections.
In a report published on that day, the Committee criticised proposals to replace these protections with a ‘British’ Bill of Rights, finding that they would instead cause confusion and result in more cases being sent to the European Court of Human Rights. It also found that attempts to strengthen freedom of speech could undermine the enforcement of other rights.
The Government launched a consultation on proposals to revise the Human Rights Act in December. Its stated aim is to “restore a proper balance between the rights of individuals, personal responsibility and the wider public interest”.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights found that the Human Rights Act has been successful in strengthening the ability of people in the UK to enforce their rights, and this would only be weakened by the Government’s proposals.
According to the Committee, placing greater restrictions on who can bring a human rights claim or reducing the damages owed to a claimant because of a perception of them being undeserving would contravene the fundamental principle that human rights are universal. Proposals designed to distance the UK courts from decisions made in the European Court of Human Rights would create legal uncertainty, requiring lengthy and costly litigation to resolve and more cases being taken to Strasbourg. Fears that UK courts are taking decisions that should be made by Parliament are unfounded.