Naïve intentions, inferred imputations – The Human Rights Roundup

13 November 2011 by


Welcome back to the human rights roundup. Our full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.

by Graeme Hall

In the news

Last Friday was the deadline for submissions to the Commission on a Bill of Rights consultation – please send your submissions to and we will publish them in a roundup later this week.

Is my presumed intention inferred from a fair imputation? How naïve!

Domestically, Jonathan Sumption QC, an at-some-time-in-the-future Supreme Court Justice, has been described by Joshua Rozenberg as demonstrating a certain ‘naivety’ when, in delivering the FA Mann Lecture, he argued that judges are too interventionist in policy decisions, and that parliamentary scrutiny is generally a sufficient safeguard to protect ‘the public interest’.

However, as seen by the Supreme Court’s decision in Jones v Kernott, criticism is something Mr. Sumption QC will have to get used to. The Supreme Court has ruled that where cohabitees purchase property in joint names, there is a presumption that they own it jointly unless an alternative intention between the parties can be inferred from the evidence or, where no intention can be inferred, an alternative intention can be ‘imputed’ by the judge.

There was disagreement amongst the Justices about how and whether an imputation can be made. Bloggers Lucy ReedObiterJ and nearlylegal are in agreement that the law remains unclear. The best advice, it would seem, would be to write down your intentions at the time of purchase and any subsequent changes to your intentions.

Abundant criticism this week for the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court. Which one’s worse? You decide…

A British invasion of Strasbourg?

Strasbourg continues to dominate the headlines and, if you’ve missed anything, Dr. Ed Bates gives a thorough background to the Bill of Rights Commission, reform of the European Court and the UK taking the 6 months’ chairmanship at the Council of Europe.

The timing of the UK chairmanship coincides with a Brit, Sir Nicolas Bratza, taking over the presidency of the European Court. Despite a strong British presence within the Council of Europe institutions, this will not necessarily mean, as Adam Wagner has remarked, that the UK will be able to drive through a British agenda. Nonetheless, as The Economist notes, ‘6 months of hard diplomacy’ could result in a win-win situation  – greater efficiency at the European Court and the suspicious attitude with which human rights are regarded at home, improved.

Whilst in broad agreement with these conclusions, Joshua Rozenberg notes that the UK will most probably fail in its interventions to overturn the Court’s prisoner voting rights decision. The Attorney General’s appeals to the principle of subsidiarity (a legal doctrine seemingly adopted from EU Law), and/or to affording Member States a wide margin of appreciation in politically and socially sensitive matters, will not prevail in this instance.

Yet, the Court’s application of the margin of appreciation has also been criticised for being too wide. The Grand Chamber’s recent decision finding no violation of the Convention regarding Austria’s ban on sperm and ova donation for in vitro fertilisation has been convincingly condemned by Rosalind English. As Rosalind observes, it is difficult to reconcile why the Court has afforded States a wide margin in medical matters, but not in social policy matters. It also doesn’t sit well with previous decisions of the Court, including the ruling that prisoners have a right to artificial insemination.

For those who are itching to see some tangible changes at the European Court, a paper by the Robert Schuman Foundation discusses the progress being made over the European Union’s accession to the European Convention.

Other roundups

LawthinksLatest human rights developments in the UK is a staple for human rights news; listen to David Green and Charon QC discuss all the recent legal news including Grieve, Assange, LASPO and legal aid on the Without prejudice special podcast; BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action discusses the Human Rights Act, the Commission and the European Court of Human Rights.

Case law commentaries from across the blogosphere

In the courts

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1 comment;

  1. Wasn’t it Carl Gardner in discussion with Charon QC in the podcast?

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