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Creating a More Dangerous Branch: How the United Kingdom's Human Rights Act Has Empowered the Judiciary and Changed the Way the British Government Creates Law

36 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2014  

JoAnne Sweeny

University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Date Written: June 3, 2014

Abstract

Power struggles between government branches are nothing new. What is new is how those struggles have recently changed in the United Kingdom as a result of the constitutional reforms enacted by Tony Blair and the Labour Party. In addition to incorporating fundamental human rights into the British legal system, the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998 resulted in the alteration of the balance of power between the three British government branches, with the judiciary and legislature achieving substantial gains in influence and independence. An unintentional side-effect of these changes is that the British government structure now appears to have a more American style with a stronger separation of powers. More specifically, the British legislature and judiciary have gained new powers when human rights laws are implicated, which place these branches on more equal footing with the traditionally dominant executive branch. As this article shows, when creating or altering laws that involve human rights, government branch interactions are noticeably different, and the legislature and judiciary now have more of an impact on which laws will stand the test of time.

Keywords: Comparative Constitutional Law, Human Rights

Suggested Citation

Sweeny, JoAnne, Creating a More Dangerous Branch: How the United Kingdom's Human Rights Act Has Empowered the Judiciary and Changed the Way the British Government Creates Law (June 3, 2014). 21 Michigan Journal of International Law 301 (2013); University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2014-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2445533

JoAnne Sweeny (Contact Author)

University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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