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Upholding the rule of law - The Law Society’s vision for law and justice

11 May 2017

With the country going to the polls on 8 June, the Law Society has established our priorities for the next Government on law and justice. We released Our Vision for Law and Justice last week.

Recently I wrote about maintaining legal certainty through Brexit. This week I discuss another of our priorities for the next Government: upholding the rule of law and protecting human rights.  

Legislating fundamental rights

The UK has long been a world-leader on human rights issues; from the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215 to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – in which Britain played a significant role. Fundamental, enforceable rights have been part of the fabric of British society for centuries.

Domestically, we brought hundreds of years of legislation together in the Human Rights Act, consolidating rights that British people had long enjoyed.

We have called on the next Government to ensure that nothing erodes the fundamental rights that we have. This means making sure that they are enforceable through the courts, as well as written down in legislation

The fight against modern slavery

Britain has continued its leadership on human rights issues in recent years with the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the UK National Action Plan on business and human rights, designed to tackle people trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The Law Society has worked with the Government and others to make sure that Britain remains a leader on this issue. A great deal of progress has been made, but there is still more to do to make sure that British businesses are world leaders when it comes to having supply chains free from modern slavery. 

We have called on the next Government to put fundamental rights at the core of future trade deals, so that expanding our global business does not come at the cost of people’s rights. We have also stressed the importance of delivering on the UK National Action Plan and continuing to support victims of modern slavery.

Protecting human rights defenders

Around the world, many lawyers do not enjoy the safety and security that we do in England and Wales. Many of our colleagues face threats and intimidation and too many have been murdered. This is not just a problem for the individuals and their families and friends, but represent a significant attack on the rule of law and the fundamental rights of all. We have called on the Government to protect and defend lawyers and human rights defenders around the world who are persecuted or harassed in the course of their duties. Read about our work in this area, including our interventions.

I will be writing about more of our priorities over the next few weeks. To keep up to date with what we are doing and how you can help, visit our General Election page. 


Tags: human rights | modern slavery | president | Brexit

About the author

Robert Bourns was the 172nd president of the Law Society. He is a senior partner at TLT Solicitors, where he specialises in employment law. Robert is one of five representatives for the City of London constituency, a member of the Law Society's Equality and Diversity Committee, and a member of the Regulatory Affairs Board Regulatory Processes Committee.
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