Barristers slam Human Rights Act

Almost two-thirds of barristers believe that the Human Rights Act leaves the justice system open to misuse and abuse by judges and lawyers, a new survey has found.

The Bar Council survey of 230 barristers found that almost a third of the respondents had raised human rights law in their cases in the last week.

In only 19 per cent of these hearings did the judges rely on the human rights point of law.

Stephen Hockman QC, Chairman of the Bar Council said: “This survey shows that the Human Rights Act has not quite had the universal impact attributed to it in the popular media. Calls for its repeal, however, are very likely to be misplaced.”

More than one in ten barristers wanted the Act to be repealed, with 14 per cent feeling that Act had made the quality of justice worse. However, almost two-fifths felt that justice had improved by the introduction of human right laws and that repealing it would make justice worse.

The poll, commissioned by BBC’s Law in Action programme, showed that almost seven in ten counsel felt that the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights into English law, had been the deciding factor in less than five per cent of cases in the past year.