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The Necessity and Possibility of the Use of the Principle of Generic Consistency by the UK Courts to Answer the Fundamental Questions of Convention Rights Interpretation

DOUGLAS, BENEDICT,JOHN (2012) The Necessity and Possibility of the Use of the Principle of Generic Consistency by the UK Courts to Answer the Fundamental Questions of Convention Rights Interpretation. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis seeks to engage with and give answers to the fundamental question of rights interpretation confronting the British judiciary under the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA). As a premise, it recognises that the textual openness and consequential semantic uncertainty of the requirements of the Convention rights necessitates their interpretation. In determining the approach the courts should apply, this thesis takes as its structural foundation an analysis of the current approach of the domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to the five pivotal questions of interpretation: who has rights, the substantive nature of those rights, how rights are to be weighted and balanced in cases of conflict, whether they are rights under a will or an interest conception, and against whom the rights are held?

From this basis, the thesis builds upon the existing knowledge to apply Alan Gewirth’s Principle of Generic Consistency (PGC) to the current judicial position, to critique its compatibility with this principle’s requirements. Through analysis of core settled characteristics of the Convention rights, the substance of the courts’ judgements and the ECtHR’s jurisprudence, and supported by both dialectically necessary and contingent arguments, it is ultimately argued that it is, theoretically and practically, both necessary and possible for the domestic courts to be guided by the PGC in their interpretive approach.

Finally, an improved understanding of the principle of human dignity will be advocated as a means through which the domestic courts can apply the PGC’s requirements. By this means, this thesis ultimately proposes an interpretive approach to the Convention rights which gives compelling guidance in answering the fundamental questions of rights interpretation and, by encouraging direct principled engagement with these questions, increases the public understanding of the fundamental nature of rights and the acceptability of the HRA and judgements under it.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Human Rights Act 1998; Human Rights; Gewirth; Principle of Generic Consistency; Moral Philosophy; Ethics
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Law, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:13 May 2013 11:03

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