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Courts 'too ready' to follow ECHR

UK judges may have sometimes been "too ready" to follow decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights - according to the UK's most senior judge.

And Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, says judges are beginning to see that such an approach may not be appropriate.

He said one of the most controversial aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights was that it was an international set of rules with the European Court of Human Rights - based in Strasbourg, France - as "its final arbiter".

Lord Neuberger has made his comments in a speech - published on the Supreme Court website - to lawyers in Australia.

"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," he told a conference at the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne.

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

"I think we may sometimes have been too ready to treat Strasbourg court decisions as if they were determinations by a UK court whose decisions were binding on us.

"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 added: "I think that we are beginning to see that the traditional common law approach may not be appropriate, at least to the extent that we should be more ready not to follow Strasbourg chamber decisions."

Lord Neuberger said, in some respects, the UK had "much to learn" from mainland Europe. But he said the UK had "just as much to offer".


From Belfast Telegraph