The “right to a fair trial” is still being regularly litigated over in the UK and across Europe 800 years after it was enshrined in Magna Carta. Research from the Legal business of Thomson Reuters shows that in the last decade, the European Court of Human Rights has made 19 rulings against the UK and 1,237 rulings against all EU countries in total for breaches to the right to a fair trial.

As Britain led the world in celebrating the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta at Runnymeade on June 12, 1215, the research adds to the long standing debate over the relevance of the historical document and suggests the principles laid out in Magna Carta are still live issues in the UK and other well established democracies, even today.

In 2014 alone, 149 violations of the right to a fair trial were recorded by the European Court of Human Rights against signatory countries to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The “right to a fair trial” and “no punishment without law” (the right not to be charged for an offence committed before that offence became a crime) are the core elements of Magna Carta that remain relevant today.

Both the “right to a fair trial” and “no punishment without law” are now part of both the European Convention on Human Rights, as Articles 6 and 7 respectively, and are also contained in the UK’s Human Rights Act.

The current government in Britain has outlined plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights. It would be expected that a British Bill of Rights, were it to go ahead, would affirm the principles of the “right to a fair trial” and “no punishment without law” set down in the Magna Carta.

Legal experts trace the ideas incorporated within these two Articles from the European Convention on Human Right back to Magna Carta’s declaration: “No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land….to no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice.”

The definition of “right to a fair trial” and “no punishment without law” have significant impact on companies as well as individuals and have been argued in cases relating to employment law, tax tribunals, regulatory issues and other, often high value, commercial cases.

Press coverage:
Magna Carta Still Essential Today
Strasbourg Court Proves Magna Carta is Still Relevant in Europe
Magna Carta is Still Relevant in Europe
Britain Makes 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta