Review of the Year


Human Rights

Human Rights ‘reform’ is still on the agenda, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. We still await the Conservative proposals for a British Bill of Rights, and there is a lively campaign in defence of the Human Rights Act.

Although I support the Human Rights Act, I am very sceptical about some of the arguments given in its support. The place to start is the following post

which should be a rough and ready guide for spotting nonsense claims.

On human rights and devolution see

For a critical review of a lecture by Professor Sands in defence of the Human Rights Act (useful because it contains many of the assumptions of those who want to defend the Act as a self evident good thing)

A critical review of Professor Finnis’ criticisms of the European Convention

And an examination of an area where the European Court of Human Rights went too far in extending jurisdictional application

Indirectly concerning the same issue is this post on gun control and gay marriage in the United States. The thesis is that judges in interpreting open textured constitutional rights constraining the legislature should do so conservatively (and that SCOTUS does not behave in that way).

Military Action in Syria

It is highly newsworthy if the UK government acts contrary to international law. Less exciting is that the UK’s actions against Da’esh in Syria are lawful. See

The Ministerial Code

An academic storm broke out about the changes to the ministerial code to remove mention of international law. The view adopted here was that the new version is better than the old, but could still be improved.

Constitutional Conventions

The Blog started life back in April with a series of posts on the Fixed-term Parliaments Act and the Convention that the Prime Minister must resign if unable to command majority support in the Commons.


As we now know, the Tories won an outright majority in the May General Election and all of these posts are of no immediate interest. If, as currently looks very unlikely, there is a hung Parliament in 2020 the issues raised will become live again.

Labour Party Rules

A couple of posts on the Labour party rulebook. The first is now of only historic interest and concerned the dog’s dinner the party made of its leadership election process.

Still of relevance is the question of whether Jeremy Corbyn would need to obtain the nominations of MPs in order to be able to stand if challenged. I do not think this issue is clear cut.


Finally a couple of posts on giving offence.

First a post claiming that the law goes too far in criminalising online abuse.

Second Ken Livingstone’s “apology” to Kevan Jones is used as vehicle for looking at what constitutes an apology.




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