UK Government proposes changes to the Human Rights Act

Date: 16th December 2021
Category: Other human rights treaties and mechanisms

people around a table with 'human rights' written on the table

The proposed changes to the Human Rights Act set out by the UK Government run counter to the recommendations made by the Independent Panel on the Human Rights Act Review. These changes would create barriers to accessing justice and redress, courts would no longer be able to ‘read in’ interpretations to legislation.

The following proposals have been made:

  • The UK would remain a party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). However, the UK would no longer be required to take account of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights, which oversees the ECHR, in how it is applied in this country. This could lead to different standards applying in the UK than in other countries also party to the ECHR. That would leave UK victims of human rights abuses with less access to justice and fewer courses of redress.

  • The UK Government also announced a plan to ‘re-assert democratic control over the expansion of human rights.’ This would end the ability of courts to address human rights abuses by making human rights compliant interpretations of existing legislation. Courts would no longer be able to ‘read in’ interpretations to legislation.

  • The UK Government has also proposed to introduce an additional permission stage into human rights cases, where claimants would have to demonstrate that they have experienced ‘significant disadvantage’ before a case could proceed. This is an unnecessary barrier to accessing justice, as there is already a permission stage before a case can be heard at the High Court which screens out unmeritorious cases and claimants should be able to seek to resolve an injustice through the courts without such a test applying.


  • Changes to the margin of appreciation. The Government proposes to ‘assert a greater “margin of appreciation” in applying ECHR rights at home. This runs directly counter to the Independent Panel’s recommendation which suggested that there should be no change to the operation of the margin of appreciation.

Read more about these new announcements here.

Read Together’s response to the earlier Independent Human Rights Act Review here.