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The Effect of European Law and Human Rights on the Lawmaking Process in the UK

The incorporation of community law through the implementation of the European Communities Act 1972(the ECA), which expressly gives legal effect to EC law has led to the creation of what has been described as “a new legal order”, directly attacking traditional constitutional convention of national sovereignty and shifting the dynamic in the lawmaking process in the UK.
Conversely, the established convention that Parliament cannot bind its successors has led commentators to argue that theoretically the ECA could be repealed by Parliament and as such, does not, in reality, change the relationship between EC law and national supremacy6. Whilst this may be so in theory, the political machinations of Government demonstrating a bias for cohesion and collaboration with the EC renders it highly unlikely that Parliament will repeal the ECA. Moreover, Section 2(4) of the ECA provides that “any legislation passed or to be passed… shall be construed and take effect subject to” the enforcement in the United Kingdom of directly effective rules of Community law. Section 3 further provides for a direct duty for UK courts to determine questions of community law in accordance with principles laid down by the case-law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The impact on Parliamentary Sovereignty in the lawmaking process and the separation of powers from EC initiatives has further been fuelled by the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA). The implementation of the HRA was heralded by the Lord Chancellor as having “a profound and beneficial effect on our system of law and government and will develop over the years a strong culture of human rights”. The focus of this analysis is to critically evaluate the effect of EC law and human rights on the lawmaking process in the UK. I shall consider EC law and human rights in sections 1 and 2 below respectively and conclude with an overview.
In considering the evolution of supremacy of EC law, the starting point is the 1963 ECJ decision in Van Gend en Loos&nbsp.which emphasised that European law was to be distinguished from regular public international law.&nbsp.

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