By: Guest Contributor


States Not Obliged to Assist Persons Wishing to Commit Suicide – Antoine Buyse

23 January 2011 by

Last week, the European Court of Human Rights decided in the case of Haas v. Switzerland (judgment in French only) that the right to private life is not violated when a state refuses to help a person who wishes to commit suicide by enabling that person to obtain a lethal substance.

The applicant in the case, Ernst Haas, had for two decades been suffering from a serious bipolar affective disorder (more commonly known as manic depression). During that time he attempted to commit suicide twice. Later, he tried to obtain a medical prescription for a small amount of sodium pentobarbital, which would have allowed him to end his life without ain or suffering. Not a single psychiatrist, of the around 170 (sic!) he approached, was willing to give him such a prescription. This would have been necessary, under Swiss law, which allowed for assisted suicide if it was not done for selfish motives (in the opposite case, the person assisting could be prosecuted under the criminal code).

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Court of Human Rights: five recent Article 10 cases – Hugh Tomlinson QC

21 January 2011 by

Over the past month, the Court of Human Rights has handed down judgment in six Article 10 cases.  We have already posted about the most recent, MGN v United Kingdom. Of the other five, two involved civil defamation claims in domestic cases.  In both civil defamation cases it was held that the State had infringed the right to freedom of expression but there was no finding of violation in any of the other cases.  The reasoning is not straightforward in any of these cases and there are continuing doubts about the quality of the Court’s Article 10 case law.

The only “media case” amongh the five was Novaya Gazeta V Voronezhe v. Russia([2010] ECHR 2104) in which a unanimous First Section found a violation of Article 10 as a result of a domestic defamation award of RUB 25,000 (£525) and an order for the publication of an apology.  The applicant newspaper had published an article which concerned abuses and irregularities allegedly committed by the mayor of Novovoronezh and other municipal officials. It also made references to services supplied by a local businessman. The article relied on and quoted from a town administration audit report.  The domestic court allowed the plaintiffs’ action, holding in particular that the article implied the embezzlement of funds by the mayor and the businessman, of which the newspaper had failed to adduce any proof.  It pointed out that no criminal proceedings against the plaintiffs in connection with the audit of some of the financial matters in question had been opened and that the article thus lacked a factual basis.

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The right to education, human rights and school exclusions

14 January 2011 by

The European Court of Human Rights has handed down judgment in Ali v United Kingdom (Application no. 40385/06, 11 January 2011). The decision is the final instalment of the litigation which culminated at the domestic level in the judgment of the House of Lords in Ali v Lord Grey School [2006] UKHL 14.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ECtHR has upheld the conclusion of the HoL (Baroness Hale dissenting in part) that no violation of the A2P1 right to education occurred.  However, in certain significant respects the reasoning of the ECtHR diverges from that of the HoL. In particular, it provides important guidance on: (i) the circumstances in which school exclusions are compatible with A2P1 rights; and (ii) the content of the right to education.


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Climate Defence – a Wild Way Forward

7 January 2011 by

This week 18 defendants were sentenced after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass. Guest blogger Eleanor Cooombs of Wild Law reports.

Their crime was to attempt the shut-down of Ratcliffe-on-Soar, the UK’s third largest coal-fired power station. Yet, they argue that they are not criminals but defenders of the very future of the planet.

Their defence raised the argument of necessity which makes it excusable to commit an act which would otherwise be a crime, in order to prevent death and serious injury. A classic example is that it would be legal to break the window of a burning house in order to save the life of a child who was inside it. The defendants posited that they were acting to prevent the greater crimes of death and serious injury caused by climate change. They hoped their actions would prevent around 150 thousand tonnes of carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere and would draw attention to the ‘failures of our present political system’ -the perceived lack of government action towards meeting its legal duty to cut emissions by 80% by 2050.

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Defamation again: Mrs Clift wins in the Court of Appeal

24 December 2010 by

Don't step on them

Last year I blogged about Mrs Clift winning a claim for defamation against Slough Borough Council. The facts are in the earlier post. Slough’s appeal was rejected by the Court of Appeal in Clift v Slough Borough Council [2010] EWCA Civ 1171.

While the point in issue was whether Slough could rely on a defence of qualified privilege against Mrs Clift’s claim, I think the decision has wider implications and is therefore relevant to housing practice. The court’s reasoning on Article 8 of the ECHR should be familiar to housing lawyers. In the court’s view, the publication of damaging allegations about Mrs Clift interfered with her rights under Article 8(1) and the council was therefore bound not to pass those allegations on unless in doing so Article 8(2) was satisfied – which it manifestly was not in Mrs Clift’s case. Via some relatively complex reasoning related to the ways in which qualified privilege has been analysed by the courts, this meant the council could not raise the defence and so their appeal was lost.

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Justice Human Rights Awards 2010 – the results

10 December 2010 by

Last night was the Justice Human Rights Awards 2010 ceremony. Readers of this blog will know that we were one of three organisations shortlisted for the Human Rights Awards.

We didn’t win! But we did lose out to an excellent organisation: Bail for Immigration Detainees, an independent charity which challenges immigration detention in the UK, working with asylum seekers and migrants in removal centres and prisons to secure their release from detention.

The Human Rights Awards have been held each December since 2001 to commemorate Human Rights Day, which is today.

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Case Law: “Spiller v Joseph – the New Defence of Honest Comment” – Catherine Rhind

3 December 2010 by

The Supreme Court yesterday handed down judgment in the case of Joseph v Spiller ([2010] UKSC 53), the first time it has considered a libel case since its inception. The panel consisted of Lords Phillips, Rodger, Walker and Brown and Sir John Dyson.  There is the usual useful press summary. The background to the case has already been covered in a previous case preview on this blog and the background facts and the case history are not repeated in this post.

Despite branding the underlying dispute between the Motown Tribute Band “the Gillettes” and their entertainment booking service aconsiderable … storm in a tea-cup”, the Supreme Court have broadened the scope and application of the defence of fair comment. The Supreme Court did so by reducing the burden formerly placed on defendants to identify facts they are commenting on with ‘sufficient particularity’. Lord Phillips also re-named the defence as “honest comment” (as opposed to Court of Appeal in BCA v Singh [2010] EWCA Civ 350, which favoured “honest opinion” [35]) and called on the Law Commission to consider and review the present state of the defence.


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A searching question

22 November 2010 by

There are now over 400 posts on the UK Human Rights Blog. This landmark provides a good opportunity to remind readers how to search the site.

The most basic search function is by entering a word into the “search” box which is always available at the top right of the screen.

You can also search by category via the blog archive or the drop down menu which is on the sidebar to the right. Each post is ‘tagged’ with:

  1. A blog category (for example ‘case summary‘ or ‘in the news‘)
  2. A legal category (for example, family law) and
  3. An article of the European Convention on Human Rights (for example, Article 2, the right to life).

You can read more about the individual rights on our ECHR page, which is also in a tab above. The full list of categories is reproduced below:

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UK Human Rights Blog shortlisted for JUSTICE Human Rights Award 2010

17 November 2010 by

We are delighted to announce that the UK Human Rights Blog by 1 Crown Office Row chambers has been shortlisted for the JUSTICE Human Rights Award 2010.

Also shortlisted are Reprieve and Bail for Immigration Detainees. The Human Rights Awards have been held each December since 2001 to commemorate Human Rights Day. As described by JUSTICE, the awards aim to recognise and encourage individuals and organisations whose work is dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of others. Last year’s winner was the Gurkhas Justice Campaign. A full list of previous winners can be found here.

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How the most English of poems inspired a Scot to champion European Human Rights

9 November 2010 by

The following is a guest post by Tom Blackmore, the grandson of David Maxwell Fyfe, a politician, lawyer and judge who was instrumental in drafting the European Convention on Human Rights, which has just celebrated its 60th anniversary (see our post). For those who argue that human rights are an invention of continental Europe, this article should provide food for thought:

In 1914 Rupert Brooke wrote:

If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is for ever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England’s, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;

Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,

In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

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Anonymity refused in privacy case – despite agreement of parties

8 November 2010 by

Updated | On 5 November 2010  judgment was handed down in JIH v News Group Newspapers ([2010] EWHC 2818 (QB)) – Read judgment.

Update, 18 November 2010: The case has returned to the High Court after the Daily Telegraph reported a key detail relating to JIH’s identity. This was contrary – said JIH – to the court order. Mr Justice Tugendhat refused the application by JIH that his/her identity not be disclosed. However, he did sound a warning that “editors and publishers have regard to the “duties and responsibilities” referred to in Art 10(2) itself. These duties and responsibilities include a requirement that they comply with orders of the court, and that they take all necessary steps to ensure that journalists understand this necessity.” If they ignore that warning, warned the judge, they may be found in contempt of court.

This post by Mark Thomson first appeared on the media law blog Inforrm, and is reproduced with permission and thanks

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Happy 10th birthday Human Rights Act

2 October 2010 by

Updated x 2 Today marks ten years since the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force, on 2 October 2000. The act brought UK citizens under the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights. For ten years, it has been unlawful for a public authority to breach those rights.

We at the UK Human Rights Blog wish the oft-maligned act a very happy birthday. We, along with our sister-site the Human Rights Update Service, have been covering human rights case-law since 2000.

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Top 10 posts of all time

1 October 2010 by

To celebrate our six-month birthday, and following the Inforrm Blog’s lead, here are our 10 most popular posts of all time.

We launched the UK Human Rights Blog on 31 March 2010 and since then have had 86,070 page views, with over 20,000 coming this month alone. So thank you to all of our readers, and enjoy the top 10! As always we welcome your comments on any aspect of the blog.

  1. British Airways strike and human rights – The union strikes back
  2. Pilot accused of 9/11 plot entitled to compensation
  3. Rooney, Coulson and Hague scandals reveal the need for stronger protection of the press
  4. Human Rights Act may be safe under new Justice secretary Ken Clarke
  5. European Court of Human Rights sharpens its teeth
  6. Sarah Ferguson scandal raises debate on right to privacy
  7. Sex offenders’ lifelong living and travel restrictions were breach of human rights
  8. Religious versus other freedoms: the future of Article 9?
  9. Lord Bingham of Cornhill dies, loss of eloquent advocate for individual rights
  10. France expulsion of Roma: the EU law perspective

Open for your comments

21 September 2010 by

Regular readers may have noticed that in the past few weeks we have the opened up reader comments on the UK Human Rights Blog. This took a few months to get going for practical reasons, but comments are now enabled for every new post.

Please use the comments section on this post to let us know if there are any new features which you would like to see appear on the blog.

We are approaching 6 months since launch, and we want to thank all of our readers for supporting the blog. The response has been fantastic. We have had around 80,000 page views since launch, and next week will have had around 20,000 during September alone. We also have over 1,000 subscribers on email, Facebook, RSS and Twitter. If you have not subscribed for free, then click here to find out how.

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Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption ALBA Allison Bailey Al Qaeda animal rights anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus Coroners costs court of appeal Court of Protection crime Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention diplomatic immunity disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of candour duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Employment Law Employment Tribunal enforcement Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance football foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Health high court HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Japan Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid legality Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage Maya Forstater mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery monitoring music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries public law rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo Right to assembly right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence sexual orientation Sikhism Smoking social media South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine UK Supreme Court unduly harsh united nations USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
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