The Human Rights Act and Legal Culture: The Judiciary and the Legal Profession

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Abstract:

The purpose of this article is to consider the effect the United Kingdom’s currently prevailing legal culture is likely to have on the realization of cultural change presaged by the Human Rights Act. The article is in five parts. The first two address the preliminary questions: what is meant by ‘legal culture’ for these purposes, and what type of ‘human rights culture’ does the Human Rights Act envisage? The answers define the scope of the remainder of the article’s inquiry into the ways in which the Act itself and the culture of the United Kingdom legal profession and judiciary are likely to interact. The third part of the article identifies some examples of the sorts of culturally specific aspects of current legal practice which are likely to operate as serious practical constraints on the emergence of a human rights culture worthy of the name, before the fourth part considers what sorts of cultural changes will be required of judges and lawyers for the presaged cultural transformation to come about. Finally, the article asks whether there is any reason to believe that courts and lawyers can find from within their present culture the resources to bring about the necessary shift.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-6478.00117

Affiliations: London, UK

Publication date: March 1, 1999

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