3. How and Why Have Senior Judges Come Into Conflict with Government Ministers Since 1997?

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3. How and why have senior judges come into conflict with government ministers since 1997? [25 marks] In 2003, momentum grew for reform of the British senior judiciary, says Neil McNaughton. The Labour government which took office in 1997 had always aspired to carry out this reform. However, this reform of the judiciary had formed conflicts between the government ministers and the judiciary due to several reasons. These included the risk of citizens’ rights as a result of the increasing political role of the judiciary. Some even suggest that judicial power has become controversial due to its increasing political importance. However, the main reason for this conflict between the executive and judiciary can be said to be the Constitutional Reform Act (2005) and the Human Rights Act (2000). The Constitutional Reform Act was intended to represent a separation from the traditional “fusion” model of the UK Constitution and towards a “more explicit separation of powers”, The Relations between the executive and judiciary would therefore be governed by the Act itself. Traditionally, the judiciary’s overall task was administration. However, it has developed which entailed a minority of the judiciary having political importance. One of the most significant developments which have been made is the introduction of the Human Rights Act which came into force in 2000. It also incorporated The European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. Due to this act, the United Kingdom enjoyed a codified set of human rights for the first time. Prior to the introduction of this act, citizens only knew their rights in terms of the limitations of their freedoms. However, this Human Rights Act came into conflict with the state’s needs to maintain security and protection of the United Kingdom. A key example of this conflict was seen in the Afghan hijackers case.
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