Human Rights Law and Practice

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David Pannick, Javan Herberg
Butterworths, 2009 - Civil rights - 974 pages
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As this work examines the new legislation and includes detailed background to the Human Rights Act, the provisions of the Act and each of the rights which are enshrined in the Act, you can be confident that you have the information you need to interpret a complicated area of law with ease. European and Commonwealth case law is also included together with primary materials such as the Act itself and key international conventions to provide you with the most authoritative account of the Human Rights Act in one handy reference source.

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An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE, Richmond Green Chambers
With its enactment into British law in 1998 –a year which future historians may point to as a watershed in the saga of human progress—the original European Convention on Human Rights, as a concept, has had widespread and profound effects on the legal, and indeed, the social landscape of the United Kingdom now it is in legislative form.
Unlike much other legislation, which passes by almost unnoticed and unremarked upon by members of the public, ‘human rights’ seem to be familiar to everyone. Everyone knows about it. Everyone has an opinion on it. Some bless its existence. Others wish it would go away. So I welcome this third edition from Lester, Pannick and Herberg.
It’s interesting that ‘human rights’ continue to be controversial. And it’s not necessarily because of the intent, or the content of the legislation itself, but because of the continuing propensity of individuals -- laymen and indeed some practitioners too -- to misunderstand and misinterpret it … sometimes deliberately.
‘I’ve got rights!’ cry the disaffected, as well as the ignorant, often with little insight into, or regard for, their corresponding responsibilities- and some newspapers don’t help matters!
So what exactly are our rights? What are our entitlements under this legislation and what are its limits and limitations? Anyone seeking the answers as well as an in-depth and accurate understanding of this legislation would do well to read the third edition of “Human Rights Law and Practice” which put the subject into twenty-first century perspective.
In the Foreword, Lord Phillips sums it up as ’a work of general excellence’, describing its many and learned contributors as familiar figures at the coal face who together have produced a thorough and yet eclectic survey of the case law they have presented.
As for the controversial aspects of the legislation, or rather the continuing tendency to mis-apply it, the Preface reminds us that ’human rights have become on too many occasions an excuse for incompetent administrators, a rallying cry for irresponsible journalists and a weapon for partisan politicians.’ The example is given of a car thief who clambered onto a roof to evade arrest, threw missiles at the police and refused to come down. During the subsequent siege, the officers supplied him with a takeaway meal, a soft drink and cigarettes so as to “ensure his human rights”. ‘We hope’, say the editors, ‘that this book may throw useful light on the true potential and limits of human rights.’ They do, actually!
Of particular interest to laymen as well as lawyers is the section on the history and context of the Act after ten years, as well as all its articles and protocols, from the right to life and the prohibition of torture, slavery and forced labour to the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and so forth. More the preserve of practitioners is the section on principles of interpretation. As the authors have pointed out, human rights have their true potential and certainly their limits. What is notable is not what you can do under the legislation, but what you can’t.
Now in its third edition, this book has become the definitive and authoritative work on human rights. As the law is stated at 1st January 2009, this is a vital work to have on your shelf, especially bearing in mind that, as Phillips observes, ‘the law of human rights is also the fastest developing area of jurisprudence.’
ISBN: 978 14057 36862

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