Amid signs that public compliance with the lockdown restrictions is beginning to diminish, as people sense that the peak of the virus may have passed, the importance of the Government being seen to be accountable and complying with the Rule of Law was much discussed this week, as the Government acknowledged that the effectiveness of its response depends more on public trust than on enforcing the criminal law.
Dr Ronan Cormacain, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre, was at panellist at a webinar on the Rule of Law and Covid-19 hosted by the Society of Conservative Lawyers this week. The central question posed was - has the Rule of Law been overlooked in this crisis? Ronan was joined by practising lawyers and legal academics to discuss the Government's legislative response to the crisis. The panel debated a wide range of topics: compatibility of the legislation with the ECHR; the lawfulness of the various Coronavirus Regulations; the proper approach to making emergency law; alternative routes for making legislation; and the role of guidance as opposed to rules.
The panel was chaired by Sir Bob Neill MP, chair of the Justice Committee in the House of Commons and a longstanding member and officer of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Rule of Law, for which the Bingham Centre provides the secretariat. There was broad support for the general approach taken by the Government, although there was also some questions around the efficacy and legitimacy of some of the official responses. The Society tweeted the event, and a recording of it will shortly be available on their website.
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