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Judicial Reform and Bill of Rights.

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Introduction

Judicial Reform and Bill of Rights Many people believe the present UK judicial system is unfair, old fashioned and in need of a major reform. The cost of legal aid has soared in the last ten years, and solicitors often charge �100 an hour to hire, with barristers costing even more. Even though citizens who cannot afford these rates may be entitled to free legal aid, a lot of people simply don't bother because the time and cost impediments cause more trouble than the case itself. There is great competition between solicitors firms for business, and many people think that the more a solicitor costs, the better the quality of advice is, which is not always the case. Even though the 'no win, no fee' formats introduced to solicitors by the Lord Chancellor are unjust, as the firms tend to take most of the compensation as legal fees. Another reason, which may suggest a need for a reform, is the fact that British judges are un-elected and so are undemocratic. The present system is not only elitist, but it favours white, middle class, well educated males, proving that it can be a racist, sexist, class discriminating system. The public has no choice in deciding who judges and adjourns various cases. A less distinguished point that criticises the UK judicial system is the number of scandals involving Freemasons and other 'secret clubs' in the structure. Two successive governments have conducted three formal inquiries on the extent of corruption by Freemasons in the judicial system and in municipal government. The government inquiries concluded that Freemasonry was having a negative effect on justice in the UK and recommended that is should be made a declarable interest so that all Freemasons publicly register if they are Judges, police officers, Magistrates, prosecutors, Crown Officers, Prison guards or parole officers. Only a small number of Freemasons have actually come forward, which would suggest that they might see themselves as being beyond and above the law. ...read more.

Middle

Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that everyone has the 'right to life'. This may pose problems in Britain especially it may mean that some people can ask for abortion to be made legal as the right to life is denied by females who choose to have an abortion. In the future, this possibly may have to become a decree, as this law is not unheard of in many other countries. Article 12 of the Convention could suggest that homosexual marriages are included in a citizen's legal rights, and so UK law may have to change to allow all homosexual marriages to take place. This will not only cause problems for the Church as they might not be willing to conduct ceremonies, but also homosexual discrimination in the police force, in the judicial system and many other places will be taken to the courts if the 'freedom of expression' is ruptured. Many of the cases described in item C show situations where the law will have to be modified due to the incorporation of the Human Rights Act into UK law. If the courts refuse to abide by the Act when judging a case relating to the Act, the citizen involved will be able to take the case to the European Court of Justice. This will not only appear bad for the UK judges as they have not maintained the conventions in the Act, but will also cause problems if their case is successful in Europe. With the UK courts almost representing the British people, there is a possibility that they will have to deal with so many cases that there will be less time to judge other cases such as murders or frauds. Along with the lack of money to fund the courts and legal aid for citizens, money will be needed to train judges to be able to deal with the new types of cases. ...read more.

Conclusion

The present Labour government has introduced citizenship into the National Curriculum, and the Human Rights Act may be included in that. The European Convention of Human Rights has been a set of guidelines for other countries to form a bill of rights for their country. Human Rights Acts have worked well in other countries despite the number of disadvantages, and so by implementing the UK Act we are following in the footsteps of other successful Acts. However, many people, mostly 'Euro - sceptics', argue that the Human Rights Act is simply a decoy to manipulate people into wanting to move closer into a 'United States of Europe'. There are also many disadvantages of the Human Rights Act; for example many people feel it is simply unachievable in Britain today due to all the implications it would bring with it. It may not be clear how to interpret 'rights', and there are no set guidelines of what format the Act should take, such as how entrenched it should be. Many existing laws conflict with our Human Rights Act which is obviously a negative thing, and even though the Labour government introduced the Act to gain support from electorates, they surely cannot be pleased with the limits they have placed on their own power. Also, many people believe UK citizens' rights were adequately protected before the Act was introduced, and it has been an expensive waste of taxpayers' money. The Human Rights Act that has been codified may possibly suggest a step forward into a whole new written constitution, although this is a totally different issue. Overall, there are many different advantages and disadvantages that suggest the UK Human Rights Act are both good and bad, although Britain will not be able to judge it until the progress has been analysed and evaluated in the future. It has only been made a law for two months at present, so there is still plenty of time in the future to decide on the outcome and consequences of the Act. ...read more.

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