In the Media

Rights bill commission seeks opinions for the second time

PUBLISHED July 12, 2012

Thursday 12 July 2012 by Michael Cross

A right to administrative justice and trial by jury are among measures that may be proposed for a future UK Bill of Rights, the body set up to investigate the need for a bill has suggested.

In its second consultation, which opened yesterday, the Commission on a Bill of Rights seeks opinions on several new rights as well as further opinions on the advantages or disadvantages of creating a UK bill in the first place.

About half the responses to the first consultation opposed a UK Bill of Rights, a quarter were in favour with the remainder neither clearly for nor against such a bill.

Other questions in the new consultation include whether the rights and freedoms in any UK bill should be expressed in the same language to that of the Human Rights Act or the European Convention of Human Rights.

It also raises the questions of 'additional rights' including a right to equality, socio-economic rights, children's rights, environmental rights and rights for victims.

A right to administrative justice might take the form of 'a broad statement of a right to decision-making which is lawful, rational and procedurally fair', the document says. Alternatively it could be expressed in detail including reference to specific principles of administrative justice.

On the right to trial by jury, the consultation offers as a model Article 11(f) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which gives the right to any person charged with an offence punishable by five years or more in prison, except for cases tried under military law.

The Commission on a Bill of Rights was set up in March 20011 'to investigate the creation of a UK Bill of Rights and to provide advice on reform of the European Court of Human Rights'. Is due to report its recommendations to the government by the end of the year.

The chair, senior civil servant Sir Leigh Lewis, stresses in his foreword to the consultation that on the core matter of whether the committee will recommend the creation of a UK bill of rights 'we have reached no conclusions on this key question at this stage'.

The consultation closes on 30 September.