Guidance

Independent Human Rights Act Review

The Review will consider how the Human Rights Act is working in practice and whether any change is needed.

About the Independent Human Rights Act Review

Her Majesty’s Government is committed to upholding the UK’s stature on human rights; the UK contribution to human rights law is immense and founded in the common law tradition. We will continue to champion human rights both at home and abroad.

The Human Rights Act (HRA) has been in force for 20 years, it is timely to undertake a review into its operation. The UK’s constitutional framework has always evolved incrementally over time, and it will continue evolving. We need to make sure that our human rights framework, as with the rest of our legal framework, develops and is refined to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the society it serves. We are committed to remaining a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The government is establishing an independent review to examine the framework of the HRA, how it is operating in practice and whether any change is required. Specifically, the review will look at two key themes, which are outlined in the Terms of Reference (ToR) as follows:

  • the relationship between domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
  • the impact of the HRA on the relationship between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature

The review will consider the approach taken by domestic courts to jurisprudence of the ECtHR, including how the duty to “take into account” jurisprudence has developed. It will consider whether the HRA strikes the correct balance between the roles of the courts, the Government and Parliament. Moreover, it will consider whether the current approach risks domestic courts being unduly drawn into questions of policy. The panel will then consider whether and if so, what reforms might be justified.

As part of its work the review will also examine the circumstances in which the HRA applies to acts of public authorities taking place outside the territory of the UK, with consideration of the implications of the current position, and whether there is a case for change.

The review is limited to consideration of the Human Rights Act, which is a protected enactment under the devolution settlements. The review will not consider the scope of the substantive rights scheduled to the Human Rights Act.

Call for Evidence

The Review launched a public Call for Evidence (PDF, 294KB, 12 pages) on 13 January 2021, which closed on the 3 March 2021. Responses have been uploaded to the website once they have been processed by the Review. If you have any questions regarding your submission, or would like to request an extension of time to submit a response, please contact IHRAR@justice.gov.uk

Publication of submissions on this website does not imply the views contained therein are endorsed by the Independent Human Rights Act Review. The Independent Human Rights Act Review Panel reserves the right not to publish submissions on this website. It may decide not to publish submissions where it concludes their publication is likely to be abusive, defamatory, likely to incite the commission of an offence or otherwise potentially unlawful.

Call for Evidence responses

Message from Sir Peter Gross:

On behalf of the Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR), thank you to all those who submitted a response to our call for evidence. We received over 150 excellent responses from a large number of individuals and a variety of groups with wide-ranging interests and views. I am pleased to confirm that in accordance with the Panel’s commitment at the start of the Review, these responses have, in the interests of transparency, been published on our webpage. The responses provided will help inform our report to the government, which we intend to submit in the Summer this year.

Call for Evidence: Individual responses A to L (ZIP, 9.35MB)

Call for Evidence: Individual responses M to Z (ZIP, 7.11MB)

Organisation responses: A to D (ZIP, 14.9MB)

Organisation responses: E to K (ZIP, 13.3MB)

Organisation responses: L to Q (ZIP, 22.4MB)

Organisations responses: R to Z (ZIP, 12.5MB)

Roadshows

Following the close of IHRAR’s call for evidence, members of the IHRAR Panel are participating in a series of public events hosted by universities across the United Kingdom. They aim to engage and hear views from a wide range of interested parties, to help inform their deliberations. Discussions will be led by representatives from the host University, in conjunction with Panel members.

Interested individuals can sign up to the events listed below utilising the respective links. Each sign-up page provides further information on how to submit comments and questions to be discussed.

Privacy Notice

The Ministry of Justice is the data controller for any personal data included in responses to the IHRAR Call for Evidence. That data will be collected and processed for the purpose of informing the IHRAR Panel’s consideration of the issues set out in its Terms of Reference and associated purposes, such as development of the Government’s response to the Panel’s report. For more information, see the Privacy Notice (PDF, 148KB, 2 pages).

In the interests of openness and transparency, responses to the call for evidence will be published on the IHRAR website as soon as is practicable, with the respondent identified. If you consider there are exceptional circumstances which make publication or attribution inappropriate in your case, you may email ihrar@justice.gov.uk to request non-publication or anonymisation of your response. Your email should include a summary of the reasons for your request. While the Ministry of Justice does not guarantee that all such requests will be granted, you will be contacted by the IHRAR Secretariat to discuss your concerns before a decision is made regarding publication of your response.

It should be noted that even if your response is not published, it may still be disclosed in accordance with the access to information regimes (these are primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the UK General Data Protection Regulation, and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004).

Membership

  • Sir Peter Gross – Panel Chair
  • Simon Davis
  • Baroness O’Loan
  • Sir Stephen Laws QC
  • Lisa Giovannetti QC
  • Professor Maria Cahill
  • Professor Tom Mullen
  • Alan Bates

Meeting minutes

Meeting minutes (ZIP, 1010KB)

Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference (PDF, 118KB, 2 pages)

Secretariat

The Secretariat is provided by the Ministry of Justice.

Next steps

The Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR) Panel will examining a range of data and evidence. The review will report back in Summer 2021, putting forward options for reform, for consideration by the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland. Their report will be published, as will the Government’s response.

FAQs

What is the review looking into?

The Review is looking at the framework of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), how it is operating in practice, the strengths and weaknesses of the framework insofar as it relates to the issues in the ToR, and whether any change is needed.

In particular, the Review is examining the relationship between domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights, and the impact of the HRA on the relationship between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature, including whether under the HRA domestic courts have been unduly drawn into questions of policy.

Will the Review be considering the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention)?

The HRA is underpinned by the UK’s international obligations under the Convention, and the ToR states the UK remains committed to upholding those obligations.

The Review is limited to consideration of the domestic HRA framework. Issuing falling outside that framework, including consideration of potential changes to the operation of the Convention or European Court of Human Rights, or changes to the substantive rights themselves, are not within the scope of the Review

What will be the product of this reform?

We will produce an independent report, which will be issued to the Lord Chancellor. The report will outline our assessment of the issues raised in the Terms of Reference and, where we deem appropriate, options for reform. The final report will be published, as will the Government’s response.

How long will it run for?

It is anticipated that the Review will run until the Summer of 2021. We envisage that in this time we will be able to examine the issues raised in the Terms of Reference thoroughly, including by obtaining evidence from interested parties.

Will the Review be conducting consultation/engagement?

We have launched a public call for evidence, please refer to the section above on how to submit a response. We will follow-up by engaging with interested parties once this has concluded.

Published 7 December 2020
Last updated 2 June 2021 + show all updates
  1. Meeting minutes published.

  2. Call for Evidence: Individual responses M to Z updated.

  3. Oxford roadshow registration link added.

  4. UCL Roadshow event register link added.

  5. Glasgow roadshow registration link added.

  6. Roadshow dates updated.

  7. Roadshow information published.

  8. Organisation & individual responses updated.

  9. Organisation responses to Call for Evidence published.

  10. Organisation responses updated.

  11. Call for evidence individual and organisation responses updated and published.

  12. Minor updates to call for evidence document, added privacy notice and responses

  13. Call for Evidence responses published.

  14. Call for Evidence published.

  15. First published.