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Nicola Laver

Editor, Solicitors Journal

HRA review a 'giant leap backwards'

HRA review a 'giant leap backwards'


An independent review of the Human Rights Act was announced today but Amnesty International warned of a 'giant leap backwards'

An independent review of the Human Rights Act was announced today but Amnesty International warned of a ‘giant leap backwards’.

Taking a step towards delivering on its election manifesto pledge to update the Human Rights Act (HRA), it was announced that former appeal court judge Sir Peter Gross will lead the review.

It will be examined by an independent panel of experts, including immediate past Law Society president Simon Davis and other lawyers.

The panel will decide whether there is a case for change and recommendations are expected next summer. 

However, Amnesty International’s director, Kate Allen, warned: “Tearing up the Human Rights Act would be a giant leap backwards. 

“It would be the single biggest reduction in rights in the history of the UK.”

Citing events such as the Hillsborough and Grenfell disasters, and “the appalling mishandling” of covid-19 in care homes, she said “we have never so badly needed a means to hold the government to account and we know that the Human Rights Act does that extremely effectively”.

“It took ordinary people a very long time to win these rights”, she added, “and we mustn’t let politicians take them away with the stroke of a pen.”

She observed that this development appears to be “the latest power-grabbing move from a government that doesn’t like limits on its powers or judges who tell them when they break the law”.

The Law Society welcomed the invitation to Simon Davis to join the panel.

The Society’s president David Greene said: “The rights enshrined in the Act are core to the UK’s identity as a democratic, fair and just nation.

“These core values will be front and centre for the panel whose job will be to ensure that they are not rolled back or compromised.  
But he warned that any review of the HRA would have implications for everyone. 

“We'¯hope the panel will engage extensively with the public, as this will be crucial so that ordinary people are informed about what is at stake and can have their say,” he added.

The government said the review "is limited to looking at the structural framework of the Human Rights Act, rather than the rights themselves".