The Constitutional Law Matters project was delighted to host an online webinar with The Right Hon Lord Carnwath, a former Justice of the UK Supreme Court who recently joined the Faculty of Law as a Yorke Distinguished Visiting Fellow, on Human Rights Act reform. The event was chaired by Professor Alison Young (University of Cambridge).  

Constitutional Law Matters held an online webinar on 8 February 2022 with Lord Carnwath of Notting Hill on the Government’s consultation paper on reforming the Human Rights Act 1998 and The Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR). 

Lord Carnwath critically examined the Government’s consultation paper proposing for a Modern Bill of Rights put forward by the Government. He questioned how the proposed replacement of section 2 of the Human Rights Act (where the courts would not be required to follow or apply any judgment or decision of the European Court of Human Rights) ‘would advance the Government’s stated objectives’ (which include ‘respect[ing] the UK’s international obligations as a party to the [European] Convention [on Human Rights]’.

He went on to argue that the vagueness of the proposed new arrangements would bring judges ‘close to despair’ and would not ‘curb the judicial activism’ of which the Government complains. Reference was made to the IHRAR and the missed opportunity of reviewing the scope of Convention rights. He also noted that ‘there is a serious mismatch’ between the Government’s consultation paper and the IHRAR, almost comparing them to ‘ships that pass in the night’ because the Government’s proposed Modern Bill of Rights was not an issue that the IHRAR panel was asked to consider.  

A video recording of the event is now available to watch on YouTube. The full transcript of the lecture by Lord Carnwarth can be accessed here.  

For more information about Constitutional Law Matters, please contact the project’s Research Associate, Joanna George, or the project’s Research Assistant, Dora Robinson, via