Human rights

Human Rights Act reforms

The Human Rights Act codifies and protects fundamental rights and freedoms and ensures everyone, no matter their wealth or status, can uphold those rights in UK courts.

The rights and liberties enshrined in the act are core to the UK’s identity as a democratic, fair and just nation.

They’re embedded in our culture and legal system and it’s vital that these rights are not rolled back on or compromised.

Government consultation

The government is conducting a consultation on reforms to the Human Rights Act.

It's seeking views on a wide range of topics, including:

  • the duties on courts to take account of case law from the European Court of Human Rights and to interpret legislation compatibly with Convention rights
  • extending the use of declarations of incompatibility to secondary legislation and introducing suspended and prospective quashing orders in human rights claims
  • introducing a permission stage for human rights claims
  • when public authorities are held accountable for human rights violations
  • restricting when human rights apply in deportation cases
  • how rights are balanced against each other, such as freedom of expression and privacy
  • extraterritorial application of human rights

The consultation was open until 8 March 2022, with an extension available for those requiring easy read or audio versions until 19 April 2022.

Read our response to the government’s proposals

Independent Human Rights Act Review

The government's consultation follows the Independent Human Rights Act Review which was established in December 2020.

The panel considered options for amending the Human Rights Act and invited views in a call for evidence.

It examined the relationship between domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the relationship between the UK courts, executive and parliament. 

Read our full response to the Independent Human Rights Act Review

The panel’s final report was published in December 2021.

Overall, the report found that the Human Rights Act has been a success and did not advocate for radical change. It made only modest recommendations.

Read the report on the GOV.UK website

Our view

We welcome the Independent Human Rights Act Review’s acknowledgment that the Human Rights Act is working well overall.

The government’s consultation goes much further than the review’s remit and recommendations.

While we welcome the government’s continued commitment to remaining a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, we're concerned by the proposals put forward which fundamentally change the framework of the Human Rights Act and the protections it provides.

We do not believe there is a case for the sweeping reforms proposed.

We're concerned that the proposed reforms do not recognise the significant benefits that have been achieved for British society through the HRA, that is, improving access to justice and upholding the rule of law.

We believe the proposals will:

  • damage the rule of law
  • prevent access to justice
  • reduce or remove rights
  • lead to more cases being taken to the European Court of Human Rights
  • impact devolution
  • damage the UK’s international reputation
  • create legal uncertainty
  • increase costs and complexity

Read our full response to the government’s proposals

What we’re doing

April 2022 – we raised our concerns with the UN in a submission to the universal periodic review of the UK (PDF 270 KB)

March 2021we responded to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on Human Rights Act reforms

February 2021 – we held a roundtable and online member forum to hear solicitors’ views on the proposed reforms

March 2021we responded to the Independent Human Rights Act Review call for evidence

February 2021 – we submitted an overview of our position to the Joint Committee on Human Rights to inform its response to the review

February 2021 – we held roundtables with expert solicitors to gather evidence and insights to inform our response to the review

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