The Government introduced to the House of Commons yesterday its draft Bill of Rights Act, which would replace the Human Rights Act 1998, but retains all the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights alongside the additional requirements of the Draft Bill.

Sections 4 and 22 of the Draft Bill touch on the role of ‘freedom of speech’ (‘Freedom of Expression’ under the ECHR).

  • S.4(1) would state: “When determining a question which has arisen in connection with the right to freedom of speech, a court must give great weight to the importance of protecting the right.” This is stated not to apply to apply to criminal proceedings, or to breaches of confidence.
  • S.22 refers to limits on injunctive relief affecting Freedom of Expression, and largely reflects the law in its current form, concerning respondents being notified of injunction applications, and prior restraint of publication requiring the court to be satisfied “that the applicant is likely to establish that publication should not be allowed.”

The Draft Bill can be accessed here, and will now proceed through Parliament. How the bill progresses will be very interesting.