Judges call for human rights reform

Two of Britain's most senior judges yesterday added their voices to calls for reform of the European Court of Human Rights.

The UK is planning to use its six-month chairmanship of the Council of Europe, which began this month, to push the case for reform to make the Court more efficient.

A key issue is reducing the backlog of cases which its 46 judges have to deal with. Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge – the head of the judiciary in England and Wales – told a parliamentary committee that applicants should be required to obtain permission to go to Strasbourg and cases should have a genuine human rights issue at stake. It should not just be a means to challenge a national court's judgment.

Lord Phillips, President of the Supreme Court, told the Joint Committee on Human Rights: "I agree with the basic point being made by Lord Judge. What they ought to be focusing on is cases which raise issues of principle."