The UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights ('JCHR') before Convention Rights: Contradictory Pressures

This paper identifies three conceptions of human rights legislative scrutiny and explores how they may respond to the different pressures that the JCHR faces. These conceptions are: a legalistic and court centered approach, a focus on constitutional deliberation, and the idea of constitutional construction and development. The pressures flow from the UK Parliament's decision to domesticate the European Convention of Human Rights by means of the 'Human Rights Act 1998' ('HRA'). There is ambiguity in the HRA, as the government placed an expectation on Parliament to comply with Convention rights, yet preserved parliamentary supremacy. Pressures for compliance with Convention rights demands a legalistic and 'court-centered' approach. By contrast, a focus on parliamentary sovereignty may fit better either with the idea of constitutional deliberation or that of constitutional construction and development. This paper assesses these conceptions against the JCHR's working practices.