Hunters lose court battle

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The Independent Online

Hunt supporters today lost their High Court battle to overturn the ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales.

The Countryside Alliance challenged the validity of the 1949 Parliament Act, which MPs used in the House of Commons to introduce the Hunting Act because of opposition from the House of Lords.

The centuries-old sport will be outlawed when the Hunting Act takes effect on 18 February, unless the courts find the legislation legally flawed.

Today's decision is not the end of the line for the Countryside Alliance. Although its challenge failed, it was given permission to take the case to the Court of Appeal, which is set to hear the case on 8 February.

The Countryside Alliance also plans to apply for a judicial review of the Hunting Act on human rights grounds. That would constitute a separate challenge.

The Government has said it is confident such an action would also fail. Ministers signed statements during the progress of the legislation through Parliament confirming the Act was compatible with human rights legislation.

Even if the human rights challenge succeeded, it would not mean the suspension of the Act. The courts only have the power to declare it incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Parliament would then consider how, if at all, to change the Act to make it compatible. That would not affect the continuing legal force of the Act.