Faculty gives MSPs views on possible repeal of Human Rights Act

04 Feb


The Faculty has helped MSPs to examine the implications of a possible repeal of the Human Rights Act in favour of a British Bill of Rights.

In written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee, the Faculty said it was not convinced of the need for substantial reform, and that it believed that the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic law through the Human Rights Act and the devolution legislation had been beneficial for the people of Scotland.

“It appears to the Faculty that the current system of domestic human rights protection works well,” the Faculty added.

Simon Di Rollo, QC, represented the Faculty when the Committee took oral evidence from a number of witnesses.

He was asked about accusations of “mission creep” by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

“As far as the Faculty is concerned, we cannot see any justification for that proposition,” said Mr Di Rollo.

He suggested that since it was founded, the Court merely had developed the law while keeping up with modern society, as any court would be expected to do. He gave as examples the protection afforded to homosexual relationships and to children born out of wedlock.

“I am unable to point to any example, particularly any example affecting Scotland, where one could say that the Court has been guilty of mission creep,” said Mr Di Rollo.

Moving to another point, he said that repeal of the Human Rights Act would have the potential to lead to a fragmented system of rights. There would be a situation where the Scottish Parliament had the ability to legislate in a range of areas, using and applying the ECHR.

“(The Scottish Parliament) would be entitled to do that whether the Human Rights Act was in force or not. That could produce, potentially at least, a fragmented position in relation to rights which would be confusing for those of us involved in trying to understand what the law actually is,” he added.

The evidence session can be viewed from 1h 14m at http://www.scottishparliament.tv/Archive/Index/092a4753-72c5-4b19-a566-b83eabe382b3?categoryId=3b218d3f-4918-4575-af1b-8ce15b98a2a8&parentCategoryClicked=False&pageNumber=0&orderByField=ScheduledStart&queryOrder=DESC