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British Bill of Rights begins parliamentary passage

The Bill of Rights Bill, which seeks to reform the law relating to human rights, received its first reading in the House of Commons on 22 June 2022.

The government says that the legislation, if enacted, will ensure courts cannot interpret laws in ways that were never intended by Parliament and will empower people to express their views freely. At the same time, it will help prevent trivial human rights claims from wasting judges' time and taxpayer money. A permission stage in court will be introduced requiring people to show they have suffered a significant disadvantage before their claim can go ahead.

The Bill will also reinforce in law the principle that responsibilities to society are as important as personal rights. It will do this by ensuring courts consider a claimant's relevant conduct when awarding damages.

Clause 3 of the Bill states that the Supreme Court is the ultimate judicial authority on questions arising under domestic law in connection with the Convention rights.

Stephanie Boyce, President of the Law Society, responded to the government's announcement of measures included in the Bill:

"The erosion of accountability trumpeted by the justice secretary signals a deepening of the government's disregard for the checks and balances that underpin the rule of law. The Bill will create an acceptable class of human rights abuses in the United Kingdom – by introducing a bar on claims deemed not to cause 'significant disadvantage'. "It is a lurch backwards for British justice.

Members of Parliament will next consider the Bill at Second Reading. The date for second reading has not yet been announced.

For the Bill, as introduced, click here. To follow progress of the Bill, click here.