In response to the UK Government’s publication of proposals to reform the UK Human Rights Act, the Law Society of Scotland has said while it is reassuring that the proposed Bill of Rights will retain substantive rights protected under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), it will be vital to ensure that some existing rights are not diminished.

Ken Dalling, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “It is reassuring that the UK Government has said it plans to retain all the substantive rights currently protected under the ECHR and the UK Human Rights Act 1998.

“However there will need to be very careful consideration given to those areas which the government is seeking to strengthen. For example in considering the primacy of the UK Supreme Court over decisions made in Strasbourg, there is no need for any change as proposed. UK courts, while they take account of case law emanating from the European Court of Human Rights, follow the law which applies to their jurisdiction in the UK.

“We will also examine the changes proposed to the right to respect for family life and the ‘permissions stage’ in UK human rights cases so that the protections provided by the European Convention on Human Rights are not diminished.”

The Law Society has also pointed out that certain aspects of the proposals will not apply in Scotland, such as the right to a trial by jury which is not part of Scots Law, and that it is the Scotland Act 1998, rather than the UK Human Rights Act 1998, which provides for human rights protections in the devolved sphere.

Ken Dalling added: “We will examine these proposals very carefully as to the impact they may have on the human rights protections offered to all those living in the UK.”

The consultation Human Rights Act Reform: A Modern Bill Of Rights - A consultation to reform the Human Rights Act 1998 is available to read on the UK Government website. The deadline for responses is 8 March 2022.

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