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Human Rights Act used more frequently in UK legal cases

A new report by Thomson Reuters has revealed that The Human Rights Act 1998 is being deployed more frequently in legal disputes, including business and tax cases.

The research shows that 428 court cases ranging from tax appeals to business disputes, invoked Human Rights Act legislation in 2013-14, up from 410 cases in 2012-13.

During this period, the Act was cited in 46 business cases and nine tax-related cases, according to the Thomson Reuters report.

One of the most recent high-profile legal disputes to feature the Human Rights Act was between HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and more than 150 members of Ingenious Media, a film investment scheme that was investigated by the authority.

The investors applied for judicial review of HMRC’s disclosure of information about Ingenious to the media, arguing that it was a breach of their right to privacy under Article 8 of the Act. However, they failed to win their appeal.

The increase in the number of times the Human Rights Act was cited in UK legal cases is significant, as the government prepares to announce plans to circumvent the Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights.

The current Conservative Government believe the Act “undermines the role of UK courts” and is open to abuse. They also believe it has created a “courtroom compensation culture”.

Last month senior government sources revealed to The Sunday Times that Justice Secretary Michael Gove is preparing to draft a consultation document which will set out what Britain’s position will be in regards to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), upon which the 1998 Act is based.

It is understood that Britain will remain a signatory to the ECHR, but a new Bill of Rights will be created that will be above the ECHR.

When making their judgements, British judges may currently use their discretion on whether to follow rulings made by the ECHR as the ECHR’s rulings are not binding on British courts.

Link: Thomson Reuters