An audience of senior lawyers from law firms, chambers, and inhouse legal departments voted definitively against the motion that ‘the European Court of Human Rights is Undermining Democracy’ at the third debate in the Thomson Reuters Legal Debate Series last Thursday evening.

With human rights and the ECHR at the forefront of national attention in the UK, and as they wait to see whether or not the new Government will bring forward proposals for a UK Bill of Rights, the motion under debate was particularly topical.

Around 100 customers came to watch debaters battle it out over the right of the Strasbourg Court to influence British judges and the impact of its human rights rulings on democracy and justice in the UK. The host and chair for the evening was Reuters Editor at Large Axel Threlfall.

Arguing for the motion, that the European Court of Human Rights is undermining democracy in the UK, was Times’ Journalist and former Conservative MP Matthew Parris, alongside human rights QC Kirsty Brimelow of Doughty Street Chambers. Opposing the motion was Michael Mansfield QC and Rt Hon Jack Straw.

As one audience member and Legal Week journalist tweeted using the Series hashtag ‘#Legaldebate’: “Two QCs, a Times journalist and a former secretary of state for justice – debates don’t get much better”.

The pre-debate vote using the Thomson Reuters Convene app showed that 76 percent of audience members disagreed with the motion; 13 percent were undecided, and 11 percent agreed. Each speaker then delivered a 10-minute argument, followed by audience Q&A and summing up.

The post-debate vote confirmed the first, with 87 percent now disagreeing with the motion, 11 percent agreeing, and only 1 percent undecided. You can watch the full debate on theLegal UK & Ireland You Tube Channel.

Legal Debate Series will be back in September for our fourth debate.

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