Impact: Human Rights Act Reform Consultation
In December 2021, the UK Government released its Human Rights Act Reform consultation. Read about the work we did to respond to the consultation and to support others to respond.
When the UK Government released its Human Rights Act Reform consultation in December 2021, it did not release a true Easy Read or accessible versions. We supported self-advocates from learning disability groups to challenge this and accessible versions were eventually released and the deadline to respond was extended.
Ministry of Justice Roundtable
On 17 February 2023, BIHR took part in a Ministry of Justice Roundtable on the Human Rights Act Reform consultation. We asked for clarity around these roundtables and were told the invitee list was not being made public and there were no plans to produce meeting notes or publish responses.
It was hard to see the transparency and good faith of this exercise. Along with several other participants at the roundtable we attended, we wrote to the Ministry of Justice, requesting a note of the meeting to be made public. We also recorded and shared our contribution to the roundtable in which we were clear that reform was not needed.
people used our letter template to respond to the consultation. Out of the 12,873 responses, that's 4.3%!
people accessed our question-by-question guide to answering the consultation
people attended our online workshops (one in plain language and one in Easy Read) on the consultation
people accessed our Easy Read template letter for responding to the consultation made with All Wales People First, My Life My Choice and Pembrokeshire People First
Individual on BIHR's resources
"Thank you for everything you have made available to help in completing the consultation on the proposed Human Rights Act reforms. I couldn't have done it without the BIHR. These are frightening times but this gives me a bit of hope."
The UK Government received 12,873 responses in total and the Government's own report on the responses showed a clear lack of support for the proposals. For example:
The Government asked if it should remove the legal duty on courts and public bodies to interpret laws in a way that respects human rights, so far as possible. The overwhelming majority of respondents (79%) said no while 11% said they had no preference to any option presented.
The Government asked if people support the current obligations on public bodies to take proactive steps to protect people’s rights. 100% of people said yes, with many noting these obligations “provide protection for vulnerable people”
Awards for Damages
The Government asked what factors should be considered when deciding what damages someone can be awarded for a breach of their human rights. Most people (52.8%) confirmed they like the current system, where it’s looked at on a case-by-case basis.
The Government asked whether judges deciding what factors to take into account in human rights claims is causing a problem. As far as we can tell from the Government’s statistics, not a single person said yes.
Adding a Permissions Stage
The Government asked if they should add an extra barrier to people having their human rights case heard in court, by requiring them to show they experienced a “significant disadvantage”. The overwhelming majority (90%) said no.
Despite this, the Government attempted to proceed with a Rights Removal Bill that would implement many of these changes and get rid of the Human Rights Act. Fortunately, in June 2023, the Government confirmed this Bill would not go ahead.
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