The Human Rights Act has been in force for nearly a decade.  It is now at the centre of English public law – featuring in nearly half the cases in the House of Lords and the Supreme Court.  But it has not been popular.  The Conservative Party is now firmly committed to the repeal of the Human Rights Act and its replacement with a “Bill of Rights and Responsibilities”.  David Cameron recently said

“we’ll scrap the Human Rights Act, which has put our police in the ridiculous position of trying to tackle the most serious crimes without putting the faces of the most wanted criminals on posters, and made it incredibly difficult for the government to deport people who they know to be threat. Instead, what we need is a modern British Bill of Rights which clearly sets out people’s rights and responsibilities, and strengthens our hand in the fight against terrorism and crime”.

The Labour Government has also expressed a preference for a “British Bill of Rights” but has not put any legislation before parliament.  Many lawyers and NGOs have criticised the Conservative proposals as unworkable and as detracting from the real achievements of the Human Rights Act over the past ten years.  This is one of the most important areas of legal debate in the General Election.

Times Newspapers have joined with Matrix Chambers to organise a forum to discuss these issues.  The forum is followed by a public debate on the motion

“Should the Human Rights Act be scrapped and replaced by a British Bill of Rights?”

Arguing that the answer is “yes”:

David Davis Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Civil Liberties campaigner, Former Shadow Home Secretary

Martin Howe QC Member of the Conservative Party commission to create a Bill of Rights

Andy Hayman Former Assistant Commissioner and Head of Counter Terrorism

Arguing that the answer is “no”

Cherie Booth QC ­– a leading barrister specialising in public law, human rights, employment and European Community law

Lord Falconer – Former Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs

Shami Chakrabati – Director of Liberty

The debate will begin at 5.45pm.  It will be preceded, in the afternoon between 2.00 and 5.30pm by a forum on the Bill of Rights and the Human Rights Act, Chaired by Rabinder Singh QC.  The speakers and participants include:  Alex Bailin QC, Professor Frank Brennan (Chair of the Australian National Human Rights Consultation Committee), Katie Ghose (British Institute of Human Rights) Professor Francesca Klug,  Professor AileenMcColgan, Karon Monaghan QC, Tim Owen QC, Jessica Simor, Hugh Tomlinson QC.

There is a special reduced a rate of £50 for both the forum and the debate for readers of the UKSC Blog.  For further information and booking please contact