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Showing posts from December, 2022

'The [Human Rights Act 1998] is in many ways an astonishing Act. It introduces vague [C]onvention rights ... into our law. It requires other statutes somehow to be read consistently with these vague rights, the working out of which requires domestic courts to make political judgments (about what is or is not proportionate, about what is justified in a free and democratic society) and implicates courts in political controversies about how rights should best be protected. In enacting the [Human Rights Act], Parliament was clearly willing to compromise existing constitutional principle to some extent.' (EKINS and GEE) To what extent do you consider these criticisms of the Human Rights Act 1998 to be warranted? [2019].

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Whilst the Human Rights Act (HRA) has undoubtedly improvement aspects of the domestic law, it still received a plethora of criticism upon its enactment. Whilst academics such as John Spencer believe this hostility is due to “astonishing misunderstandings” of human rights in general, this essay will argue that, whilst the majority of the criticisms aforementioned are warranted, they are too narrow-minded as to the practical realities of the situation.  Upon dissection, the statement first concerns ‘vague rights’. Human rights are a contested concept, formulated at high levels of abstraction which can lead to broad rights with unclear scopes. For example, the Right to Life (Art 2) has several contentious subsections, including abortion, capital punishment and assisted suicide. It can be stretched even to provision of food and housing – what is a life, if its quality is disregarded? In contrast to common law rights, the Convention rights cannot be described as ‘vague’. The former, with it