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How have the courts decided cases when interpreted s.

3 Human Rights Act 1998 The courts when interpreting legislation have an obligation to do so in such as way that it reflects the will of Parliament thus maintaining Parliamentary Sovereignty and fulfilling the principle of separation of powers. However interpretative obligations under s.3 Human Rights Act 1998 would appear to have extended the Courts powers from an interpretative function into the realms of the legislature. In order to determine if this is indeed the position it is necessary to assess the case law where judges have interpreted legislation under s.3 HRA. Prior to the HRA the UK had very a poor record on human rights even though we ratified the European Convention on Human Rights in 1950. There was a steady stream of cases going to Strasbourg which proved very embarrassing for the UK. The Human Rights Act 1998 came into effect some 50 years later in October 2000 to rectify this problem by giving further effect to Convention rights and by making it possible for convention rights to be enforced in UK courts. Section 3 HRA confers a duty on the courts to interpret legislation, as far as it is possible to do so, in order to make it compatible with Convention rights. The scope of s.3 of the Act is demonstrated in R v Offen (Automatic Life Sentences) [2001] were the intention of Parliament behind s.109 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 was to protect the public against a person who had committed two serious offences by imposing an automatic life sentence. The Court of Appeal in applying s.3 HRA held that the court was entitled to decide that there existed exceptional circumstances if an offender did not constitute a significant risk to the public thus making the legislation Convention compliant. The decision in the case R v A (Complainants Sexual History)[2001] was seen by some (especially Lord Hope) as a radical departure from the norms of legislative interpretation as the courts were required to reinterpret the legislation in order to make it conform to Article 6, the right to a fair trial. In this case Lord Steyn took a broad approach in the use of s.3 HRA suggesting that a court applying s.3(1) may depart from or adjust, the language of a statute in order to achieve Convention compatibility. However Lord Hope admits he found it difficult to accept this approach and leaned more on the side of caution, though in the end he managed to overcome this difficulty as all their Lordships came to a unanimous decision. Which is also borne out by Lord Hopes following judgment in R v Lambert a few months later when he used exactly the same interpretative approach as Lord Steyn again involving an Article 6 violation in relation to s.28 Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The whole issue then arose again in the later case of Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza [2004] when Lord Millet dissenting concluded that by Lord Steyn adopting an expansive approach to the interpretation of the meaning of spouse for the purposes of the Rent Act 1977, was straying over the line that separates the judicial and legislative functions and that the judiciary should instead, in such cases, be resorting to s.4 HRA which allows the court to make a declaration of incompatibility, which would alert Parliament to the issue at hand allowing them to make the necessary changes to the defiant Statute. However the majority disagreed and emphasised how, in their opinion, the approach adopted was entirely consistent with the scheme laid down by Parliament in s.3 of the Human Rights Act whereby legislation should be interpreted as far as is possible to do so to ensure Convention compatibility. Furthermore, though a declaration of incompatibility would notify Parliament of a non compliant Statute, it would not however affect the validity of the operation of the Statute at that present time and as such would not provide an

How have the courts decided cases when interpreted s.3 Human Rights Act 1998 effective remedy in the matter at hand, which was to balance the rights of the complainant with the rights of the defendant in order to reach a reliable and safe decision. In conclusion it seems fair to say that the majority of the House of Lords and the judiciary in particular have the view that this is not venturing into the realms of the legislature as all of the above cases have not only provided unanimous verdicts (with Lord Millet dissenting in Ghaidan), but have not been subsequently overturned and as such the methodology used in applying s.3 HRA seems to be very much accepted as good law and that the provision in s.4 should only be used as a last resort where s3 would change the fundamental principles of a Statute. Furthermore the fact that Parliament enacted the HRA with the intention that Convention rights should be protected in the UK and chose to put the words as far as is possible to do so into s.3 shows that the courts are carrying out the will of Parliament by indeed ensuring that the balance is met when interpreting the law in conformity with the Convention by providing safe and justified verdicts thus protecting Parliamentary Sovereignty and the separation of powers overall.