Twenty years of the Human Rights Act: Extracts from the evidence Contents

2Relationship of UK Courts and ECtHR

Box 4: Professor Merris Amos

British courts can now exert strong influence, changing the course of Convention jurisprudence for all Contracting States, and helping to ensure that where the UK wishes to maintain a national position on an important issue, such as its ban on political advertising, this is far more possible than might have otherwise been the case. Applications against the UK now considered by the ECtHR where a UK court has not had the chance to exert its influence are very rare.

Source: HRA0019

Box 5: Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law

[…] the JCHR observed in 2014 that in an increasing number of recent UK cases, the Strasbourg Court has “demonstrated its willingness to defer to the reasoned and thoughtful assessment by national authorities (including Parliament) of their Convention obligations, resulting in legislation being upheld as being within the UK’s margin of appreciation”.

This is evidenced for example in cases such as Animal Defenders International v UK (Application no. 48876/08) in 2013, which concerned the prohibition on paid political advertising in UK law and where the Grand Chamber, by nine votes to eight, found no violation of Article 10 ECHR. The Court considered the domestic examination of the issues and stated that it “attaches considerable weight to these exacting and pertinent reviews, by both parliamentary and judicial bodies, of the complex regulatory regime governing political broadcasting in the United Kingdom and to their view that the general measure was necessary to prevent the distortion of crucial public interest debates and, thereby, the undermining of the democratic process”.

Similarly, in 2014 in Jones and Others v UK (Applications nos. 34356/06 and 40528/06) the ECtHR upheld the House of Lords’ decision to grant state immunity in respect of civil proceedings concerning allegations of torture and held that there was therefore no violation of Article 6 ECHR. The European Court commented on the UK court’s consideration of the case. It stated that “In the present case, it is deemed clear that the House of Lords fully engaged with all of the relevant arguments concerning the existence, in relation to civil claims of infliction of torture, of a possible exception to the general rule of State immunity” and that “In these circumstances, the Court is satisfied that the grant of immunity to the State officials in this case reflected generally recognised rules of public international law.”

Source: HRA0026

Published: 9 November 2018