The Justice and Security Bill, which will allow secret ‘closed material’ hearings to take place in civil trials, has been quietly (almost too quietly) making its way through Parliament. The Bill will allow judges to exclude lawyers, press, the public and even litigants in their own cases from civil hearings which involve national security.
Kafkaesque is a term used in almost every critical article about law ever written. But I have read The Trial (I really have!), and the effect of these proposals is not too far from that.
The key development is that many of the amendments forced through in the House of Lords under the leadership of Lord Pannick have been reversed by the Government. We have a full update coming later on the progress of the Bill, but I thought that in the mean time I would highlight a few up to date resources and developments:
- This Parliamentary briefing by Alexander Horne is excellent as usual. A great starting point for anyone who wants to know about the bill and its progress through Parliament.
- The Joint Committee on Human Rights’ (JCHR) second legislative scrutiny report (more on that later) – summary here.
- The Special Advocates’ latest analysis, as submitted to the JCHR: They say,as they have all along, that there is “no compelling justification for the proposals in Part 2 of the Bill has been made out, notwithstanding the Government’s assertions to the contrary“.
- 703 lawyers (including me) signed a petition organised by Liberty against the proposals – you can read the full list here and more coverage here.
- Here is Robert Buckland MP, a former barrister, defending the Bill on Conservative Home. It was only on reading this article that I discovered that there is a Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, and has been since 2005. That might sound a bit surprising given how little love there seems to be for human rights in the Tory party generally and the cabinet specifically. The mystery is solved on the ‘about’ page: the Human Rights Commission only focuses on international human rights. On that, read this.
More later. For now… shhh.
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