Indeterminacy, Disagreement and the Human Rights Act: An Empirical Study of Litigation in the UK House of Lords and Supreme Court 1997–2017
Posted: 9 Mar 2020
Date Written: January 7, 2020
This article explores the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the decision making of the House of Lords (UKHL) and the UK Supreme Court (UKSC). How does Convention rights content vary across areas of law in the UKHL/UKSC? Are some judges more likely than others to engage in Convention rights discourse? Is judicial disagreement more common in cases with higher levels of Convention rights discourse? A robust method of answering questions of this nature is developed and applied to decisions of the UKHL/UKSC, showing that the Convention rights content of decisions has varied over time and over substantive areas of law. Higher levels of human rights discourse are associated with greater levels of disagreement. A benchmarked measure of human rights content is developed to show the effect of the particular judge on the human rights content, illustrating the indeterminacy in human rights discourse and how its deployment can be contingent on judicial attitudes.
Keywords: House of Lords, Supreme Court, Human Rights, Dissent, Empirical
JEL Classification: K00, K4, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation