Delivering the annual Judicial Studies Board lecture in March, Lord Hoffmann reiterated his support for the text of the European Convention on Human Rights, and its embodiment in the Human Rights Act 1998.

However, he questioned the Court’s application of the “margin of appreciation” between universal human rights and the recognition that these are applied  by the national courts.  “In practice, the Court has not taken the doctrine of the margin of appreciation nearly far enough,” he said. “It has been unable to resist the temptation to aggrandise its jurisdiction and to impose uniform rules on Member States. It considers itself the equivalent of the Supreme Court of the United States, laying down a federal law of Europe.” While “the practical expression of concepts” may change over the years, the Court was not entitled to “introduce wholly new concepts, such as the protection of the environment, into an international treaty which makes no mention of them, simply because it would be more in accordance with the spirit of the times,” he said.

While the UK legal system was not “perfect”, Lord Hoffmann argued that “detailed decisions about how it could be improved should be made in London, either by our democratic institutions or by judicial bodies which, like the Supreme Court of the United States, are integral with our own society and respected as such”.