Carnegie PhD Scholar awarded Robertson Medal 2022-23
Project Title: Does the UK’s current legal framework offer sufficient protection of fundamental rights?
The purpose of this thesis is to examine whether the UK’s current framework for human rights protection offers a sufficient level of protection of fundamental rights. It will argue that the UK’s constitutional law prevents guaranteed protection of fundamental rights. It will assess this by charting the history of human rights in the UK, particularly in the era following the Second World War, before going on to look at the efficacy of the current framework considering inter alia the constitutional doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty.
The thesis examines the relationship between parliamentary sovereignty and human rights: perhaps best exemplified by the case of Hirst v UK where the European Court of Human Rights ruled a blanket ban on prisoner voting incompatible with the rights granted by the European Convention on Human Rights. Despite this decision Parliament has refused to remove this prohibition.
This thesis will then examine how other states manage to balance these competing interests before considering possible solutions to the current imbalance. An example of this imbalance is found in the right of the courts to issue a declaration of incompatibility under section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998 in cases where legislation is not compatible with Convention rights. This declaration, however, is powerless to strike down legislation: it simply allows the courts to alert Parliament to the incompatibility.
Finally, this thesis will conclude by answering the question posed in the negative and make recommendations regarding which of the possible solutions would best suit the United Kingdom.
Awarded: Carnegie-Caledonian PhD Scholarship
University: University of Dundee