Joint Committee On Human Rights Minutes of Evidence

Letter from the Lord Chief Justice to the Chairman of the Committee

  I shall endeavour to assist the Committee as much as possible subject to it being appropriate for me to do so having regard to the judicial office I hold. In answer to your request for a brief note, I make the following points:

    —  I believe the higher judiciary found the programme of induction provided by the Judicial Studies Board to be of very high quality and regarded it as a very important contribution to the smooth introduction of the Act.

    —  So far as the workload of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) is concerned, if the volume of cases has been affected at all, the effect has been only marginal. However, in a significant minority of cases, additonal arguments have been raised based upon the provisions of the Act. This has probably lengthened some hearings.

    —  The position regarding the Administrative Court is broadly the same as that outlined above for the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).

    —  I do not believe that the Act has affected the ethos of the judiciary but, of course, the judiciary is aware of the need to take into account the statutory provisions contained in the Act in reaching its decisions.

    —  So far, the Act has not had any significant effect on the procedures of the criminal and administrative courts. It could affect the Administrative Court.

    —  Regarding emerging principles under section 3 of the Act, I do not think that I can add to what the judges have already said in their judgements as to how they are already interpreting legislation in view of section 3.

    —  My answer is the same with regard to section 19. So far as I am aware there has been no decision where particular significance has been attached to a statement of compatibility in accordance with section 19 on a court. The statement does however identify the Government's view as to compatibility when the legislation is introduced and this is a matter which a court may consider relevant when interpreting legislation.

  I am grateful for the information that the Committee's remit excludes the consideration of individual cases.

The Right Honourable the Lord Woolf

21 February 2001

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