Judge claims courts “too ready” to obey Strasbourg

Britain’s top judge has said that the country’s courts have been too quick to abide by human rights rulings from Europe.

Lord Neuberger, who is President of the Supreme Court, was giving a speech to lawyers in Melbourne, Australia, outlining the impact that the European Court of Human Rights had had on the judiciary.

“UK judges have, I suspect, sometimes been too ready to assume that a decision, even a single decision of a section of that court, represents the law according to Strasbourg, and accordingly to follow it.

“That approach is attributable to our common law attitude to precedent and to our relatively recent involvement with Strasbourg.

“It is a civilian court under enormous pressure … and whose judgments are often initially prepared by staffers, and who have produced a number of inconsistent decisions over the years.”

He said that the approach of automatically abiding by the decisions was starting to change.

Lord Neuberger’s comments come amid growing speculation that the Conservative Party will pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act in their next manifesto.

It is believed that the departure of Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve from the cabinet last month removed some of the main opponents of constitutional reform.

An announcement on a new “bill of rights” – asserting the authority of Parliament over the European Convention – could come as soon as the party’s autumn conference.

But the rhetoric has alarmed many, not least Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who recently accused the Tories of taking “an extreme view.”

“I have been completely blindsided by hearing that the Conservatives – extraordinarily enough – want to line up with Vladimir Putin and other tyrants around the world by tearing up our long tradition of human rights.”

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