Joint Committee On Human Rights Third Report


69. In our view, this Bill, which would repeal the Greater London Authority Act 1999 and effectively unravel the present arrangements for local government in Greater London, has no human rights implications requiring to be brought to the attention of either House at the present time.

Private Bill


70. In accordance with Standing Orders, this Bill carries a statement that, in the view of the Solicitor to the Nottingham City Council, its provisions are compatible with the Convention rights.

71. The Bill would provide for the registration of second-hand goods dealers in the City of Nottingham (clauses 4 to 9), and would require occasional sales and squat trading in the City of Nottingham to be notified to the Council (clause 10). It would also require registered dealers in second-hand goods to keep information on the transactions by which he or she acquires certain goods and the person from whom they are acquired (clause 5), and holders of certain occasional sales to keep information about people who sell property at the sales (clause 11). The Bill would confer powers on authorised officers of the Council or constables to enter premises, and seize and detain goods and records to see whether an offence has been committed and for certain other purposes (clause 14). The Explanatory Memorandum states that the purpose is to reduce and detect property crime in the city.

72. Right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions. The liberty to carry on one's business and livelihood is a 'possession' within the meaning of ECHR P1/1. As there is no power in the Bill to refuse to register a person who applies for registration, or to deprive a person of registration, the Bill would not constitute deprivation of possessions. It is a form of control. As transitional provision is made by clause 8 for existing dealers in second-hand goods, the requirement to register does not seem to us to be disproportionate to the legitimate aim of the Bill. We therefore consider that the Bill is unlikely to give rise to a substantial risk of incompatibility with rights under P1/1.

73. Right to respect for private life and the home. Requirements for keeping records of transactions and the identity of suppliers of goods are likely to engage the right to respect for private life under ECHR Article 8.1. Nevertheless, in view of the widespread use of second-hand goods dealers and occasional sales as a method of disposing of stolen goods, we consider that the measures would be likely to be justifiable under Article 8.2.

74. Powers of entry and inspection under clause 14 would engage the right to respect for private life and the home under ECHR Article 8.1, which is capable of extending to business premises.[54] The safeguards in clause 14 seem to us to be adequate to ensure that any interference with the right would be likely to be justifiable under Article 8.2. In particular—

  • clause 14 provides an adequate legal basis for the powers to ensure that any interference with rights would be 'in accordance with the law' as required by Article 8.2;

  • the purposes for which entry may be effected are delimited in clause 14(1), and they are directed to the legitimate aim of preventing crime under Article 8.2;

  • the prevalence of the offences which the provisions are calculated to deter and detect would be sufficient to establish a pressing social need for action;

  • the power to enter premises could be exercised lawfully only at reasonable hours (clause 14(1));

  • the power to enter without a warrant would not apply to dwelling houses (clause 14(3));

  • a dwelling house could be entered without the occupier's consent only with a justice's warrant, issued on the basis of reasonable grounds (clause 14(4));

  • anyone entering premises would have to ensure, if the premises are unoccupied when he leaves, that they are as effectively secured against trespassers as when he or she found them (clause 14(6)); and

  • items subject to legal professional privilege are protected (at least when in the hands of a solicitor) by clause 14(7).

75. Subject to one caveat, we conclude that these provisions ensure that the entry and search powers necessary in a democratic society for a legitimate purpose under Article 8.2. Our reservation relates to confidential papers which are not subject to legal privilege, and to items subject to legal privilege in the hands of a person other than a solicitor. The Bill would not appear to import the protections for those classes of materials contained in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (hereafter 'PACE'), section 9 and Schedule 1. Those protections were drafted in order to ensure adequate protection for the right to respect for private life and correspondence under ECHR Article 8, and for the right to a fair trial (to which lawyer-client privilege is essential) under ECHR Article 6.

76. In our view, the provisions of section 9 of, and Schedule 1 to PACE should be imported into the Bill. We draw this to the attention of each House. We have written to the agents for the Nottingham City Council seeking their views, and will consider reporting further in due course.

54   Niemietz v. Germany, Eur. Ct. H.R., judgment of 16 December 1992, Series A, No. 251-B, 16 EHRR 97 Back

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