Monday, January 25, 2021
Jamie Grace (Sheffield Hallam University), UK Human Rights Cases in the Time of COVID-19, SSRN:
Judicial review claims throughout the 2020 pandemic phase have highlighted both the social justice and the civil liberties issues with the UK government response to the impact and seriousness of COVID-19. These legal claims have been based around Human Rights Act grounds, and sometimes on wider international human rights law instruments, and also on traditional common law grounds of review; such as irrationality, failure to consult, and other types of illegality ground. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an exercise in exploring the multitude of ways in which drastic public health policy can affect human rights even as it entails those legislative measures that are taken to protect us from a virulent disease, with all-too-often fatal consequences for those who are infected. As shown in the important Court of Appeal judgment in the 'lockdown' case of Dolan, discussed in this paper, rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (1950), in taking effect through the Human Rights Act 1998, work on the basis of a variety of structures and degrees of importance and protection, depending on the rights concerned - and the range of rights at stake under the ECHR, through the coronavirus pandemic, has been very great indeed. However, judicial consideration of key cases to date, such as Dolan, has highlighted the latitude given to executive discretion used in dealing with the public health crisis of the pandemic, as it has affected the UK.