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Chapter

Cover English Legal System

7. Human rights in the United Kingdom  

This chapter considers the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and its relationship to the English legal system. The focus in the chapter is on key provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998—the Act that incorporated the Convention into UK law. In the earlier part of the chapter there is coverage of sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Act. These provisions concern the duties placed on the courts to take into account judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, to interpret domestic legislation so as to comply with rights under the Convention, and finally to issue a declaration of incompatibility when domestic legislation does not comply with rights under the Convention. Using examples from the case law, the chapter assesses how the courts balance their constitutional role to respect the supremacy of Parliament, with the duties provided in the Act to respect rights under the Convention. There is also an analysis of s.6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 which makes it unlawful for a public authority to act incompatibly with Convention rights. The analysis includes the contested question of what precisely constitutes a ‘public authority’, particularly when a private body is carrying out a public function.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

4. International Sources of Law  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter discusses international sources of law. Conventions and treaties are the primary sources of international law. International law also relies on custom, that is to say informal rules that have been commonly agreed over a period of time. Resolving disputes in international law is very different to resolving domestic disputes, including the fact that in some instances, there is no court that can hear a challenge. The United Nations, particularly its Security Council, has the primary role in upholding international law, meaning that it is often political rather than judicial resolution. In 1972, the United Kingdom joined the (then) European Economic Community (EEC). As part of that process, it agreed to shared sovereignty, meaning that in some areas, European law would take precedence. The United Kingdom has now left the European Union but, as will be seen, its laws will remain an important source of English law for some time.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

4. International Sources of Law  

This chapter discusses international sources of law. Conventions and treaties are the primary sources of international law. International law also relies on custom; that is to say, informal rules that have been commonly agreed over a period of time. Resolving disputes in international law is very different to resolving domestic disputes, including the fact that in some instances there is no court that can hear a challenge. The United Nations, particularly its Security Council, has the primary role in upholding international law, meaning that it is often political rather than judicial resolution. In 1972, the United Kingdom joined the (then) European Economic Community (EEC). As part of that process, it agreed to shared sovereignty, meaning that in some areas European law would take precedence. The United Kingdom has now left the European Union but, as will be seen, its laws will remain an important source of English law for some time.