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THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN UNITED KINGDOM COURTS AND THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2012

Merris Amos
Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer, Queen Mary, University of London, m.e.amos@qmul.ac.uk.

Abstract

In this article the scope for dialogue between UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights is considered in theory and in practice. Having demonstrated that meaningful dialogue does take place in certain circumstances, the author considers the impact of dialogue and questions whether or not there can be any further expansion in dialogue whilst avoiding negative outcomes such as confusion over the creation of human rights norms and a loss in legitimacy for national courts adjudicating upon human rights issues.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © British Institute of International and Comparative Law 2012

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References

1 See, for example: Slaughter, AM, ‘A Typology of Transjudicial Communication’ (1994) 29 URichmondLRev 99Google Scholar; Helfer, L and Slaughter, AM, ‘Toward a Theory of Effective Supranational Adjudication’ (1997) 107 YaleLJ 273Google Scholar; McCrudden, C, ‘A Common Law of Human Rights?: Transnational Judicial Conversations on Constitutional Rights’ (2000) OJLS 499CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Waters, MA, ‘Mediating Norms and Identity: The Role of Transnational Judicial Dialogue in Creating and Enforcing International Law’ (2005) 93 GeoLJ 487Google Scholar; Bryde, B, ‘The Constitutional Judge and the International Constitutionalist Dialogue’ (2005–2006) 80 TulLRev 203Google Scholar; Faracik, B, ‘Constructive Dialogue As a Cornerstone of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies Supervision’ (2006) 38 BractonLJ 39Google Scholar; Arden, M, ‘The Changing Judicial Role: Human Rights, Community Law and the Intention of Parliament’ (2008) 67 CLJ 487CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Romano, C, ‘Deciphering the Grammar of the International Jurisprudential Dialogue’ (2008–2009) 41 NYUJIntlLaw&Pol 755Google Scholar; Cartabia, MEurope and Rights: Taking Dialogue Seriously’ (2009) 5 EUConst 5Google Scholar; European Court of Human Rights Dialogue between judges (Council of Europe, 2010) <www.echr.coe.int>.

2 Review of the Implementation of the Human Rights Act, DCA 38/06 (2006).

3 Manchester City Council v Pinnock [2010] UKSC 45 at [48].

4 See, for example, European Court of Human Rights Dialogue between judges (Council of Europe, 2010) <www.echr.coe.int>; Kerr, Lord, ‘The Conversation Between Strasbourg and National Courts – Dialogue or Dictation?’ (2009) 44 Irish Jurist 1Google Scholar.

5 European Court of Human Rights Dialogue between judges (Council of Europe, 2010) <www.echr.coe.int> at 26. See also M Arden (n 1) 499.

n 1

6 See, for example: Klug, F, ‘The Human Rights Act – a ‘third way’ or a ‘third wave’ Bill of Rights’ [2001] EHRLR 361Google Scholar; Gearty, C, ‘Reconciling Parliamentary Democracy and Human Rights’ (2002) 118 LQR 248Google Scholar; Nicol, D, ‘Are Convention rights a no-go zone for Parliament?’ [2002] PL 438Google Scholar; Clayton, R, ‘Judicial deference and ‘democratic dialogue’: the legitimacy of judicial intervention under the Human Rights Act 1998’ [2004] PL 33Google Scholar; Hickman, T, ‘Constitutional dialogue, constitutional theories and the Human Rights Act 1998’ [2005] PL 306Google Scholar; Young, A, ‘Deference, dialogue and the search for legitimacy’ [2010] OJLS 815CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

7 The Oxford English Reference Dictionary (OUP, 1996) 393.

8 AM Slaughter (n 1) 113.

n 1

9 Tremblay, LB, ‘The legitimacy of judicial review: the limits of dialogue between courts and legislatures’ (2005) ICON 644–5Google Scholar.

10 Slaughter (n 1) 113.

n 1

11 B Faracik (n 1) 40–1.

n 1

12 Tremblay (n 9) 630–1.

n 9

13 Tremblay (n 9) 632.

n 9

14 European Court of Human Rights Dialogue between judges (n 1) 5.

n 1

15 European Court of Human Rights Dialogue between judges (n 1) 9.

n 1

16 Seal v United Kingdom, App no 50330/07, 7 December 2010 at [53]. See also Van Der Heijden v The Netherlands, App no 42857/05, 3 April 2012 at [55]; Austin v United Kingdom, App no 39692/09, 15 March 2012 at [61]; and McFarlane v Ireland, App no 31333/06, 10 September 2010 at [110]–[112].

17 Bullen and Soneji v United Kingdom, App no 3383/06, 8 January 2009 at [75].

18 A v United Kingdom, App no 3455/05, 19 February 2009 at [154].

19 App no 3455/05, 19 February 2009.

20 ibid [182].

ibid

21 Rozakis, CL, ‘The European Judge as Comparatist’ (2005) 80 TulLRev 272–3Google Scholar.

22 App no 39401/04, 18 January 2011.

23 ibid [150].

ibid

24 MAK and RK v United Kingdom, App nos 45901/05 and 40146/06, 23 March 2010 at [87].

25 App no 61498/08, 2 March 2010.

26 Rights Brought Home: The Human Rights Bill (Cm 3782) (TSO, London, 1997) at [1.19].

27 Arts 2–12 and 14 of the ECHR, arts 1–3 of Protocol No 1 to the ECHR, and arts 1 and 2 of Protocol No 6 to the ECHR (as read with arts 16 to 18 of the ECHR).

28 If these have not been pursued, the ECtHR will find this part of the application to be inadmissible. See, for example, Carson v United Kingdom, App no 42184/05, 16 March 2010.

29 Art 35 ECHR.

30 A v United Kingdom, App no 3455/05, 19 February 2009 at [158].

31 European Court of Human Rights Annual Report 2010 <www.echr.coe.int>. Only a very small percentage of applications are ever declared admissible. In 2009, 17 applications were declared admissible and in 2010, 27 applications.

32 R v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, ex p S; R v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, ex p Marper [2002] EWHC 478 (Admin).

33 [2002] EWCA Civ 1275.

34 [2004] UKHL 39.

35 S and Marper v United Kingdom, App nos 30562/04 and 30566/04.

36 R (GC) v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] UKSC 21.

37 See eg Liberty v United Kingdom, App no 582433/00, 1 July 2008.

38 See eg Mackay & BBC Scotland v United Kingdom, App no 10734/05, 7 December 2010.

39 App no 48009/08, 10 May 2011.

40 This was appreciated by the ECtHR which held that he had maintained victim status and exhausted domestic remedies, at [72]–[73] and [76].

41 App no 26839/05, 18 May 2010.

42 ibid [109]. See also Greens and MT v UK, App nos 60041/08 and 60054/08, 23 November 2010 and Burden v United Kingdom, App no 13378/05, 29 April 2008.

ibid

43 R v Lyons [2002] UKHL 44; [2003] 1 AC 976 at [105] per Lord Millett.

44 R v Special Adjudicator, ex p Ullah [2004] UKHL 26; [2004] 2 AC 323 at [20] per Lord Bingham. See further Masterman, R, ‘Section 2(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998: Binding Domestic Courts to Strasbourg’ [2004] PL 725Google Scholar; M Amos, ‘The Principle of Comity and the Relationship between British Courts and the European Court of Human Rights’ in P Eeckhout and T Tridimas (eds) Yearbook of European Law 2009 (OUP, 2010); and Masterman, R, ‘Interpretations, declarations and dialogue: rights protection under the Human Rights Act and Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities’ [2009] PL 112Google Scholar.

45 At [48] per Lord Neuberger giving the judgment of the Court. See also Cadder v Her Majesty's Advocate [2010] UKSC 43.

46 App no 28326/09, 23 November 2010.

47 In re E (a child) [2008] UKHL 66.

48 [38].

49 See, for example, the observations of Baroness Hale in N v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2005] UKHL 31, [2005] 2 AC 296 at [71].

50 Tremblay (n 9) 632.

n 9

51 [2002] UKHL 44, [2003] 1 AC 976.

52 ibid [46].

ibid

53 Brown v Stott [2003] 1 AC 681.

54 Saunders v United Kingdom (1997) 2 BHRC 358.

55 At 711 per Lord Steyn and 721 per Lord Hope. See also Boyd v The Army Prosecuting Authority [2002] UKHL 31; [2003] 1 AC 734 and R (Al-Skeini) v Secretary of State for Defence [2007] UKHL 26.

56 App nos 15809/02 and 25624/02, 29 June 2007.

57 [2009] UKSC 14.

58 (2009) 49 EHRR 1.

59 ibid [11]. See also Manchester City Council v Pinnock [2010] UKSC 45 at [48].

ibid

60 Kay v Lambeth London Borough Council [2006] UKHL 10, [2006] 2 AC 465 at [28].

61 ibid.

ibid

62 Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v M [2006] UKHL 11, [2006] AC 91 at [30]. See also R (Countryside Alliance) v Her Majesty's Attorney-General [2007] UKHL 52.

63 [2008] UKHL 38, [2008] 3 WLR 76.

64 ibid [29].

ibid

65 ibid [31].

ibid

66 ibid [37]–[38]. See also the observations of Lord Hope at [50], Baroness Hale at [120] and Lord Mance at [129].

ibid

67 N v SSHD [2005] UKHL 31, [2005] 2 AC 296 at [11] and [14] per Lord Nicholls.

68 ibid at [91] per Lord Brown.

ibid

69 R (Al-Skeini) v Secretary of State for Defence [2007] UKHL 26 at [67] per Lord Rodger.

70 See eg Ullah n 44.

71 See eg the contrasting opinions of Lord Steyn and Baroness Hale on the interpretation and application of art 8 in R (S) v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire [2004] UKHL 39, [2004]4 All ER 193 at [25] and [76].

72 In the matter of an application by Brigid McCaughey and another for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) [2011] UKSC 20.

73 (2009) 49 EHRR 996 per Lord Phillips at [46].

74 ibid [73].

ibid

75 ibid [79].

ibid

76 App no 42184/05, 16 March 2010.

77 [84].

78 [84]–[90].

79 R (S) v Chief Constable of the South Yorkshire Police and R (Marper) v Chief Constable of the South Yorkshire Police [2004] 1 WLR 2196.

80 App nos 30562/04, 30566/04, 4 December 2008.

81 ibid [86].

ibid

82 ibid [104].

ibid

83 ibid [119].

ibid

84 ibid [125].

ibid

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

86 ibid [35] per Lord Dyson. It is important to note that it is also possible for UK courts and the ECtHR to be in agreement on the law, but differ as to the application of the law to the facts. This is common in immigration applications such as SH v United Kingdom, App no 19956/06, 15 June 2010 but is not a strong example of dialogue as the courts are not making the law. The law is already a matter of consensus and the judgment only has implications for the applicant.

87 [2011] UKSC 35.

88 ibid [36] per Lord Mance.

ibid

89 The presence of a dissenting judgment can be an indication that the ECtHR may eventually reach a different conclusion to that of the majority of the UK court. See eg: R v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, ex p Marper [2004] UKHL 39, [2004] 1 WLR 2196 and Marper v United Kingdom, App no 30562/04 and 30566/04, December 4, 2008; Kay v Lambeth London Borough Council [2006] UKHL 10, [2006] 2 AC 465 and Kay v United Kingdom, App no 37341/06, September 21, 2010; R (Al-Skeini) v Secretary of State for Defence [2007] UKHL 26, [2008] 1 AC 153 and Al-Skeini v United Kingdom, App no 55721/07, July 7, 2011.

90 Tomlinson v Birmingham City Council [2010] UKSC 8.

91 ibid [32] Similar struggles with Convention case law are evident in R (G) v The Governors of X School [2011] UKSC 30 and E (Children) [2011] UKSC 27.

ibid

92 MA Waters (n 1) 503. See also the comments of M Arden European Court of Human Rights Dialogue between judges – The Convention is yours (Council of Europe, 2010) <www.echr.coe.int> at 24–5.

n 1

93 C McCrudden (n 1) 530.

n 1

94 M Cartabia (n 1) 23.

n 1

95 Z and T v United Kingdom (dec), App No 27034/05, February 28, 2006.

96 R (Ullah) v Special Adjudicator [2004] UKHL 26, [2004] 2 AC 323.

97 ibid [48].

ibid

98 ibid [24] per Lord Bingham with whom the other Lords agreed.

ibid

99 Z and T v United Kingdom (dec), App no 27034/05, February 28, 2006 at p 7.

100 Other examples of the ECtHR explicitly relying upon or approving of UK case law include: Burke v United Kingdom (dec) (App no 19807/06, July 11, 2006); Uttley v United Kingdom (dec) (App no 36946/03, November 29, 2005); Coghlan v United Kingdom (dec) (App no 8535/02, November 29, 2005).

101 App no 26565/05, 27 May 2008.

102 N v SSHD [2005] UKHL 31.

103 ibid [42]. See also Saadi v UK, App no 13229/03, 29 January 2008.

ibid

104 CF Rosenkrantz, ‘Against borrowings and other nonauthoritative uses of foreign law’ (2003) 1 ICON 294.

105 In the matter of an application by Brigid McCaughey and another for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) [2011] UKSC 20 at [2] per Lord Phillips.

106 Krisch, N, ‘The Open Architecture of European Human Rights Law’ (2008) 71 Modern Law Review 185CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

107 ibid.

ibid

108 R (Pearson) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Hirst v Attorney-General [2001] EWHC Admin 239; [2001] HRLR 39; Hirst v UK (No 2), App no 74025/01, 6 October 2005.

109 Al-Skeini v Secretary of State for Defence [2007] UKHL 26; Al-Skeini v UK, App no 55721/07, 7 July 2011.

110 [2003] UKHL 43.

111 App no 37341/06, 21 September 2010.

112 Kay v London Borough of Lambeth [2006] UKHL 10.

113 App no 19009/04, 13 May 2008.

114 Manchester City Council v Pinnock [2010] UKSC 45.

115 Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Hounslow v Powell [2011] UKSC 8.

116 ibid [75].

ibid

117 Loveland, I, ‘The shifting sands of article 8 jurisprudence in English housing law’ [2011] EHRLR 164Google Scholar.

118 L Tremblay (n 9) 632.

n 9

119 See further C Harlow, ‘The Concepts and Methods of Reasoning of the New Public Law: Legitimacy’ LSE Law, Society and Economy Working Papers 19/2010; de Búrca, G, ‘The Quest for Legitimacy in the European Union’ (1996) 1 ELJ 126Google Scholar and R Barker Legitimating Identities, the Self Presentations of Rulers and Subjects (CUP, 2001), 2.

120 N Krisch (n 106) 206. See also LR Helfer and AM Slaughter (n 1) 285.

n 106
n 1

121 R (Ullah) v Special Adjudicator [2004] UKHL 26, [2004] 2 AC 323 which was followed by the ECtHR in Z and T v United Kingdom (dec), App No 27034/05, February 28, 2006.

122 C Romano (n 1) 781–2.

n 1

123 MA Waters (n 1) 559.

n 1

124 Kingsley, J, ‘Legal Transplantation: Is This What the Doctor Ordered and Are the Blood Types Compatible?’ (2004) 21 ArizJIntl&CompL 511Google Scholar. See also Rosenkrantz, CF (n 110) and Miller, J, ‘A Typology of Legal Transplants: Using Sociology, Legal History and Argentine Examples to Explain the Transplant Process’ (2003) 51 AmJCompL 877Google Scholar.

125 See further, Amos, M, ‘Problems with the Human Rights Act and how to remedy them: is a bill of rights the answer?’ (2009) 72 ModLRev 883Google Scholar.

126 See for example the recent debate concerning the deportation of Abu Qatada. The House of Lords had determined that it was compatible with the ECHR for Mr Qatada to be deported to Jordan, RB (Algeria) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] UKHL 10. The ECtHR subsequently determined that his deportation would be in violation of Article 6, Othman v United Kingdom, App no 8139/09, 17 January 2012. In a speech to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 25 January 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron cited this as an example of a ‘controversial ruling’ which overshadowed ‘the good and patient long-term work that has been done, that not only fails to do justice to the work of the Court, it has a corrosive effect on people's support for human rights’. At <www.number10.gov.uk/news/european-court-of-human-rights> last accessed 17 April 2012.

127 N Krisch (n 106) 191.

n 106

128 N Krisch (n 106) 192. See also L Heuschling, “Comparative Law and the European Convention on Human Rights in French Human Rights Cases” in E. Örücü (ed), Judicial Comparativism in Human Rights Cases (London, BIICL, 2003).

n 106

129 An example is the judgment of the House of Lords in Brown v Stott [2003] 1 AC 681 and the eventual agreement of the ECtHR with the national court in O'Halloran v UK, App nos 15809/02 and 25624/02, 29 June 2007.

130 R (Pearson) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Hirst v Attorney-General [2001] EWHC Admin 239, [2001] HRLR 39 at [20] per Kennedy LJ. Leave to appeal was refused by the Court of Appeal [2001] EWCA Civ 927.

131 Hirst v UK (No 2), App no 74025/01, 6 October 2005 at [79]–[80].

132 HL Deb 14 December 2006 cWS203. See also Voting rights of convicted prisoners – the UK Government's response (DCA, 2006) The position of the present government is set out in a ministerial statement HC Deb 6 September 2011 c13WS.

133 Smith v Scott 2007 SLT 137 at [26].

134 App nos. 60041/08 and 60054/08, 23 November 2010.

135 Quoting from [82] of its judgment in Hirst.

136 Ministry of Justice Responding to human rights judgments (TSO, 2011).

137 See eg Prime Minister David Cameron's speech to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 25 January 2012, <www.number10.gov.uk/news/european-court-of-human-rights> accessed 17 April 2012. See also D Davis, ‘How to get Strasbourg back to first principles’ The Times, 18 April 2012, p 19 and R Winnett, ‘Clegg holds us back, says Cameron’ The Times, 14 March 2012, p 2.

138 N Krisch (n 106) 198.

n 106

139 L Helfer and AM Slaughter (n 1) 371.

n 1

140 MA Waters (n 1) 520.

n 1

141 R v Special Adjudicator, ex p Ullah [2004] UKHL 26, [2004] 2 AC 323. The approach of the House of Lords in R (Countryside Alliance) v Her Majesty's Attorney General [2007] UKHL 52 was similar.

142 See further, M Amos (n 44) 518.

n 44

143 Smith v Scott 2007 SLT 137.

144 R v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, ex p S; R v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, ex p Marper [2004] UKHL 39.

145 S and Marper v United Kingdom, App nos 30562/04, 30566/04, 4 December 2008.

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

147 C McCrudden (n 1) 531.

n 1

148 ibid 531–2.

ibid

149 See, for example, the debates over democratic justifications for judicial review such as Allan, TRS, ‘Constitutional Dialogue and the Justification of Judicial Review’ (2003) 23 OJLS 563CrossRefGoogle Scholar and ‘Legislative Supremacy and Legislative Intent: A Reply to Professor Craig’ (2004) 24 OJLS 563.

150 Review of the Implementation of the Human Rights Act, DCA 38/06 (2006) at 4.

151 European Court of Human Rights Annual Reports 2009 and 2010.

152 European Court of Human Rights Dialogue between judges (Council of Europe, 2010) <www.echr.coe.int> at 25–6.

153 See eg: S and Marper v United Kingdom, App nos 30562/04 and 30566/04, 4 December 2008; Gillan and Quinton v United Kingdom, App no 4158/05, 12 January 2010; Al Sadoon v United Kingdom, App no 61498/08, 2 March 2010; Kay v United Kingdom, App no 37341/06, 21 September 2010; and Al-Skeini v UK, App no 55721/07, 7 July 2011.

154 R MacDonald, ‘The Margin of Appreciation’ in MacDonald, Matscher and Petzold (eds) The European System for the Protection of Human Rights (1993) 85. See also Kratochvil, J, ‘The inflation of the margin of appreciation by the European Court of Human Rights’ (2011) 29 NQHR 324Google Scholar and Letsas, G, ‘Two concepts of the margin of appreciation’ (2006) 26 OJLS 705CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

155 R (Countryside Alliance) v Her Majesty's Attorney General [2007] UKHL 52.

156 Terms of reference, Commission on a Bill of Rights <www.justice.gov.uk>.

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