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Minister confirms further delay of human rights reform

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Controversial proposals to scrap the Human Rights Act have been pushed back yet again, the Justice Secretary has confirmed.

Michael Gove told Peers last week that the consultation on tearing up the legislation and replacing it with a newly-drafted British Bill of Rights would now take place in 2016.

He said that the discussion of the proposed reforms had to be delayed because of the complex constitutional issues that had arisen.

At present, the Government is debating whether the Supreme Court should function as the UK’s constitutional court, along similar lines to the system which is currently in place in Germany.

“My original intention was to publish the [Bill of Rights] consultation before Christmas,” Mr Gove told the House of Lords’ constitution committee.

“It has now been put back. I expect it will be produced in the new year.”

The idea of the constitutional court, which would be responsible for scrutinising the implications of decisions taken by the European Court of Human Rights, has been raised several times in the past.

Last year Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, said: “If we had a constitution, this would presumably have primacy over decisions of the human rights court in Strasbourg and even those of the EU court in Luxembourg.

“Where those decisions appeared to be inconsistent with any fundamental constitutional principles, those principles would prevail.”

The issue of human rights reform has attracted considerable criticism and Mr Gove faced some difficult questions from the committee about whether the UK’s decision to defy Strasbourg on a number of key maters was damaging the country’s international standing.

Lester Morrill’s public law team has experience of conducting a range of cases concerning the application of the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights. For more details about our services, please contact us today.