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The Human Rights Act and the doctrine of precedent

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Shaun D Pattinson
Affiliation:
Durham University
Corresponding

Abstract

Conflicts between domestic precedents and subsequent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights have resulted in the lower courts following prior domestic decisions even when convinced that they will be overruled on appeal. The standard interpretation of the decision of the House of Lords in Kay v Lambeth holds the lower courts to domestic precedents that are manifestly inconsistent with the subsequent Strasbourg jurisprudence and admits only the most limited exception. This paper advances an alternative approach to the relationship between the domestic courts' obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the doctrine of precedent by analysis of the nature of the doctrine of precedent and the reasons offered by Lord Bingham in his leading judgment in Kay. This analysis is then extended and applied to two recent cases in which the lower courts have considered themselves bound by a decision of the UK's highest appeal court that fails to give due effect to the applicants' Convention rights.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Society of Legal Scholars 2015

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Footnotes

*

I am grateful to those who have read and commented on earlier drafts of this paper, particularly Deryck Beyleveld, Fiona de Londras, Roger Masterman and the two anonymous reviewers. All errors are mine.

References

1. Dworkin, R Freedom's Law: The Moral Reading of the American Constitution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996) p 358.Google Scholar

2. Pretty v UK (2346/02) (2002) 35 EHRR 1 at [61].

3. Cf eg R (Pretty) v DPP [2001] UKHL 61 with ibid; and R (S and Marper) v Chief Constable of the South Yorkshire Police [2004] UKHL 39 with S & Marper v UK (30562/04 and 30566/04) (2009) 48 EHRR 50.

4. Kay v Lambeth LBC; Leeds CC v Price [2006] UKHL 10 at [40].

5. There are some examples, such as Leigh, I and Masterman, R Making Rights Real (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2008) pp 7175 Google Scholar and Young, ALPrecedent’ in Hoffman, D (ed) The Impact of the UK Human Rights Act on Private Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011) p 91, esp pp 102–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar There are also various case notes, including eg Bright, SArticle 8 again in the House of Lords: Kay v Lambeth Lbc; Leeds Cc v Price ’ (2006) Con 294, 307308 Google Scholar and Foster, STo follow the Supreme Court or Strasbourg? Judicial precedent and the Human Rights Act 1998’ (2010) 15(2) Coventry L J 33.Google Scholar

6. See eg Masterman, RSection 2(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998: binding domestic courts to Strasbourg?’ (2004) Pub L 725;Google Scholar Lewis, JThe European ceiling on human rights’ (2007) Pub L 720;Google Scholar Wright, JInterpreting section 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998: towards an indigenous jurisprudence of human rights’ (2009) Pub L 595;Google Scholar Kavanagh, A Constitutional Review under the UK Human Rights Act (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009) pp 146152;Google Scholar Klug, F and Wildbore, HFollow or lead? the Human Rights Act and the European Court of Human Rights’ (2010) 6 Eur Hum Rts L Rev 621;Google Scholar and Malkani, BA rights-specific approach to section 2 of the Human Rights Act’ (2012) 5 Eur Hum Rts L Rev 516.Google Scholar

7. [2006] UKHL 10 at [40]–[45].

8. Lord Bingham had approved the Court of Appeal's approach in D v East Berkshire Community NHS Trust [2003] EWCA Civ 1151.

9. R (Purdy) v DPP [2008] EWHC 2565; [2009] EWCA Civ 92; [2009] UKHL 45 and GC & C v Commission of Police for the Metropolis [2010] EWHC 2225; [2011] UKSC 21.

10. [2006] UKHL 10 at [40]–[45].

11. [2004] QB 558.

12. [1995] 2 AC 633.

13. (2001) 34 EHRR 97.

14. [2006] UKHL 10 at [45].

15. [2008] UKHL 63 at [64].

16. Ibid, at [65]–[66].

17. [2008] EWHC 2565 at [45].

18. [2010] EWHC 2225 at [32].

19. For a recent example, see R (Kaiyam) v Secretary of State for Justice [2013] EWCA Civ 1587, esp. at [5].

20. See eg [2006] UKHL 10 at [42] (Lord Bingham).

21. Harris, BVFinal appellate courts overruling their own “wrong” precedents: the ongoing search for principle’ (2002) 118 L Q Rev 408, 412.Google Scholar

22. Duxbury, N The Nature and Authority of Precedent (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008) p 12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

23. David v Johnson [1979] AC 264, 324 and 328, and RJM [2008] UKHL 63.

24. See eg statements to this effect in the Supreme Court: Geys v Société Générale [2012] UKSC 63 at [93] and [141], and Mills v HSBC Trustee [2011] UKSC 48 at [40].

25. See eg the discussion of the lower courts' approach to Re F [1990] 2 AC 1 in Pattinson, SD Medical Law and Ethics (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 2006) pp 6768.Google Scholar

26. See the discussion of The Wagon Mound [1961] AC 388 and re Polemis [1921] 3 KB 560 in Smith v Leech Brain [1962] 2 QB 405, 415.

27. R v James and Karimi [2006] EWCA Crim 14 following Attorney General for Jersey v Holley [2005] UKPC 23 and refusing to follow R v Smith (Morgan) [2001] 1 AC 146.

28. R v Moses [2006] EWCA Crim 1721.

29. [2006] EWCA Crim 14 at [43].

30. Allen, CKPrecedent and logic’ (1925) 41 L Q Rev 329, 334.Google Scholar

31. Duxbury, above n 23.

32. Ibid, p 183.

33. See Maltz, EThe nature of precedent’ (1988) 66 N C L Rev 367 Google Scholar and Duxbury, above n 23, ch 3.

34. See eg Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, transl. R Crisp (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000) book V.Google Scholar

35. See further Westen, PThe empty idea of equality’ (1982) 95 Harv L Rev 537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

36. Duxbury, above n 23, p 177.

37. Ibid, pp 181–182.

38. Cossey v UK (10843/84) (1991) 13 EHRR 622 at [35].

39. Ibid.

40. Goodwin v UK (2002) (28957/95) (2002) 35 EHRR 18 at [74], citing Chapman v UK (27238/94) (2001) 33 EHRR 18 at [70].

41. Tyrer v UK (1978) 2 EHRR 1 at [31].

42. Harris, DJ et al Harris, O'Boyle and Warbrick Law of the European Convention on Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) p 17.Google Scholar

43. Masterman, above n 7, at 727.

44. R (Ullah) v Special Adjudicator [2004] UKHL 26 at [20].

45. R (Alconbury) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions [2001] UKHL 23, [26], Ullah [2004] UKHL 26 at [20] and Manchester City Council v Pinnock [2010] UKSC 45 at [48].

46. R (Anderson) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2002] UKHL 46 at [18] and Secretary of State for the Home Department v AF [2009] UKHL 28 at [70] (Lord Hoffman), [108] (Lord Carswell), and [114] (Lord Brown) and Cadder v HM Advocate [2010] UKSC 43 at [45]–[46] (Lord Hope).

47. Alconbury [2001] UKHL 23 at [26].

48. R v Horncastle [2009] UKSC 14 at [11] (Lord Phillips with the agreement of the other members of the SC).

49. Osman v UK (23452/94) (2000) 29 EHRR 245.

50. Z v UK (29392/95) (2002) 34 EHRR 3 at [100].

51. (38784/97) (2002) 34 EHRR 52 (see also the subsequent Grand Chamber decision: Cooper v UK (48843/99) (2004) 39 EHRR 8.

52. R v Spear [2002] UKHL 31, esp at [12], [29], [66], [97].

53. See above n 7.

54. R (Children's Rights Alliance for England) v Secretary of State for Justice [2013] EWCA Civ 34 at [64].

55. Citing R (Al-Skeini and others) v Secretary of State for Defence [2007] UKHL 26 at [105], [106]; Ambrose v Harris (Procurator Fiscal, Oban) [2011] UKSC 43 at [19], [20], [86].

56. Hansard HL Deb vol 583 col 510, 18 November 1997.

57. See Masterman, above n 7, esp at 729–730.

58. Dickson, BThe record of the House of Lords in Strasbourg’ (2012) 128 L Q Rev 354, 380.Google Scholar

59. Ibid.

60. R Masterman ‘The mirror crack'd’, available at http://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2013/02/13/roger-masterman-the-mirror-crackd/ (accessed 1 January 2014).

61. R (Chester) v Secretary of State for Justice [2013] UKSC 63.

62. Lords Hope, Hughes and Kerr simply agreed, and Lords Clarke and Sumption agreed while adding reasons of their own: [2013] UKSC 63 at [105], [112].

63. [2013] UKSC 63 at [25]–[26], citing R v Horncastle [2009] UKSC 14 at [11] and Manchester City Council v Pinnock [2010] UKSC 45 at [48].

64. [2013] UKSC 63 at [27].

65. [2013] UKSC 63 at [121].

66. Ibid.

67. Practice Statement (Judicial Precedent) [1966] 1 WLR 1234.

68. [2006] UKHL 10 at [42], citing ibid.

69. [1966] 1 WLR 1234. The Supreme Court has continued this practice: Austin v Southwark London Borough Council [2010] UKSC 28 at [24]–[25].

70. Kay [2006] UKHL 10 at [45].

71. Ibid, at [43].

72. Ibid, at [43].

73. [2006] UKHL 10 at [45], referring to Z v UK (2001) 34 EHRR 97.

74. Harrow LBC v Qazi [2003] UKHL 43.

75. Connors v UK (66746/01) (2005) 40 EHRR 189.

76. [2006] UKHL 10 at [23].

77. Qazi [2003] UKHL 43, cf Lord Hope at [71], [83]–[84]; Lord Millet at [100], [107] and Lord Scott at [149].

78. (2005) 40 EHRR 189, esp at [84], [85]–[95].

79. [2004] EWCA Civ 926 at [106].

80. [2005] EWCA Civ 289 at [30].

81. Lord Scott, Lord Brown and Baroness Hale agreed with [110] of Lord Hope's judgment, which detailed when and how it was open to a court to refrain from proceeding to summary judgment and making a possession order on the basis of a defence based on Art 8.

82. Lords Bingham, Nicholls and Walker held that it must be permissible for Art 8(2) considerations to be raised in all cases where in domestic law the occupier's right to possession has come to an end or the occupier never had a right to occupy.

83. McCann v UK (2008) 47 EHRR 913 at [50], Kay v UK (No. 37341/06) [2011] HLR 2 and Manchester City Council v Pinnock [2010] UKSC 45 (overruling Kay).

84. Leigh and Masterman, above n 6, p 74.

85. Ibid (original emphasis). See also Rights Brought Home: The Human Rights Bill (Cm 3782) (London: TSO, 1997) [1.19].Google Scholar

86. [2006] UKHL 10 at [44].

87. Ibid, at [28].

88. See also the subsequent case-law on s 2, discussed above and Smith v Ministry of Defence [2013] UKSC 41 at [43] (Lord Hope giving the leading judgment). Cf Lord Hoffman's view in re McKerr [2004] UKHL 12 at [63].

89. Horncastle [2009] UKSC 14 at [11] and Pinnock [2010] UKSC 45 at [48]. Both were cited with approved in [2013] UKSC 63 at [25]–[26]. See also Amos, MThe dialogue between United Kingdom courts and the European Court of Human Rights’ (2012) 61 Int'l & Comp L Q 557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

90. [2003] EWCA Civ 1151.

91. [1995] 2 AC 633.

92. Z v UK (2001) 34 EHRR 97.

93. Kay [45].

94. Chester [2013] UKSC 63 at [25]–[27].

95. I do not here address other Convention rights, but the case made with regard to Art 8(1) is consistent with the argument advanced with regard to all the ‘qualified rights’ in Malkani, above n 7, esp at 522–526.

96. R (Purdy) v DPP [2008] EWHC 2565; [2009] EWCA Civ 92; [2009] UKHL 45 and GC & C v Commission of Police for the Metropolis [2010] EWHC 2225; [2011] UKSC 21.

97. [2001] UKHL 61.

98. (2346/02) (2002) 35 EHRR 1.

99. [2001] UKHL 61. See also [26] (Lord Bingham), [61] (Lord Steyn), [112] (Lord Hobhouse), [124] (Lord Scott). Cf [100] (Lord Hope).

100. (2346/02) (2002) 35 EHRR 1 at [70]–[78].

101. Ibid, at [61].

102. Ibid, at [61], [65].

103. Ibid, at [67].

104. Ibid, at [87].

105. Burke v UK (19807/06; 7 July 2006).

106. Purdy [2009] UKHL 45 at [39].

107. [2008] EWHC 2565 at [46].

108. Ibid, at [45].

109. [2009] EWCA Civ 92 at [47].

110. Ibid, at [54].

111. [2009] EWCA Civ 92 at [62].

112. Leave was granted by the House of Lords on 30 March 2009: see http://iclr.co.uk/case-search/supreme-court-applications/supreme-court-archive (accessed 1 January 2014).

113. [2003] UKHL 43 at [43].

114. Purdy [2009] UKHL 45 at [38].

115. Ibid, at [34].

116. Ibid, at [32].

117. A view shared by other commentators: see Foster, above n 6, at 38.

118. R (S) & R (Marper) v Chief Constable of the South Yorkshire Police [2004] UKHL 39; S & Marper v UK (30562/04 and 30566/04) (2009) 48 EHRR 50.

119. [2004] UKHL 39 at [27] (Lord Steyn), cf [67] (Baroness Hale).

120. Ibid, at [36] (Lord Steyn, with the agreement of the other judges).

121. S & Marper v UK (2009) 48 EHRR 50 at [86].

122. Ibid, at [125].

123. GC and C v Commission of Police for the Metropolis [2010] EWHC 2225 at [27].

124. Ibid, at [30].

125. Ibid, at [30].

126. Ibid, at [32].

127. Ibid, at [33].

128. Ibid, at [35].

129. R (GC) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] UKSC 21 at [15].

130. Austin [2010] UKSC 28 at [24]–[25].

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