The United Kingdom Public Law
United Kingdom Public Law
Public law is the section of law that governs the relationship between individuals and the government and other relationships between individuals, which directly concern the society. It comprises of constitutional law, tax law, criminal law and administrative law. In public law, compulsory rules prevail. Freedom of speech is the notion of publicly voicing one’s view without the fear of being punished or censored. In the UK, the freedom of speech is a philosophy of great importance. This is either because freedom of speech is one of the basic human rights or because in Europe it is the social consensus. In Europe, the expression of opinion, including expression through demonstrations, is part of a functional democracy. This perspective encourages debate on important issues and the freedom to allow individuals to express their opinions.
In U.S, Martin Luther King led a demonstration against the legalized discrimination in the country against the black people (Hayek, 1978). In India, Gandhi broke the salt laws to demonstrate against the British rule (Kettles, 2006). Recently in Europe, The Times and Reuters argued against a court order that requested them to surrender leaked documents by a source arguing that it was against the right of freedom of expression and the court ruled in their favor. Some of these examples of demonstrations and expression of opinions involved breaking of the law to help bring positive change in the society. It is the government’s mandate to maintain law and order, looking at these examples from this perspective on the other hand, it is not very clear, as to whether they involved breaching the law.
It is important to be cognizant of the need to maintain peace in the community and on the streets without interfering with individual’s freedom of speech. Police brutality is forbidden, but instead they are allowed to use ‘reasonable force’, which mainly comprises of the use of non-lethal force and instead it uses water cannons, CS gas, buttons and horses where necessary. The law though, allows the police to use lethal force but only when necessary, for example, if a demonstrator was using a firearm (Dicey, 2008). Whether peaceful or not, demonstrations and the use of lethal force should be prevented (Muller, 2004). In An Introduction to the Study of the Law, Dicey (2008) stated that the constitution hardly recognized any specific right of public meetings. In Duncan v. Jones (1936), Lord Hewart ruled that the law did not recognize any special right of public meetings either for political or other purposes.
Ezelin v France is a relevant law case from the ECHR, which requires a balance between positive protection and the need to keep peace. It was noted that the freedom to participate in approved peaceful assemblies, was important and could not be restricted as long as the person concerned did not commit any reprehensible...