The Effect of a Treaty upon English Law: Does it Confer Rights upon Individual Citizens?
AbstractStatute Law Review 26(2), 130â133, doi:10.1093/slr/hmi013 Â© The Author 2005. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org ALEC SAMUELS Can an international treaty entered into by the Government confer rights and duties upon individual citizens? A potentially significant decision, the significance of which appears not to have been widely or fully appreciated, is Thomas v. Baptiste.1 The traditional view has long been that a treaty is an act of the executive government, not the legislature, and cannot affect the rights and duties of citizens unless and until incorporated into domestic legislation, when it becomes domestic statutory law.2 However, the judges will presume that domestic legislation will be drafted in a manner consistent with the treaty, albeit short of incorporation, and construe accordingly.3 Ambiguity in English common law or English statutory law may be resolved by reference to a relevant treaty.4 Domestic legislation will be scrutinized with particular care where it appears to conflict with a treaty, especially where human rights may be involved.5 For example, there must always be a fair procedure, such as notice given to a defendant, access to relevant documents, and the right to make representations.6 In recent years