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date: 25 April 2024

p. 44917. Human Rights I: Traditional Perspectiveslocked

p. 44917. Human Rights I: Traditional Perspectiveslocked

  • Ian LovelandIan LovelandProfessor of Public Law, City, University of London


In contrast to the constitutional systems adopted by most western democratic nations, the United Kingdom’s form of governance has traditionally not accepted the principle that certain ‘human rights’ should enjoy a normative legal status that placed them beyond the reach of laws made through the ordinary legislative process. Such ‘civil liberties’ or ‘human rights’ as we possess exist in law at the sufferance of parliamentary majorities. Human rights protection has nonetheless been an important part of the courts’ constitutional role, both in terms of the interpretation of legislation and the development of the common law. The organising principle in respect of civil liberties in Britain is that individuals may engage in any activity not prohibited by statute or common law. In addition, neither other individuals nor government officials may interfere with an individual’s legal entitlements unless they can identify a statutory or common law justification for so doing. This chapter discusses the traditional approach taken by Parliament and the courts to several key areas of what we would now regard as human rights law; the regulation of public protest, the protection of personal privacy, and to certain aspects of freedom of expression

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