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UK judge criticizes Europe rights court for overstepping authority

[JURIST] A senior judge in the UK House of Lords [official website] on Friday criticized [BBC report] the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website], saying the court has overstepped its bounds and is attempting to create a "federal law of Europe." In a recent lecture, Lord Hoffman [BBC backgrounder], the second senior law lord, said that attempts by the ECHR to influence UK domestic law should not be allowed. Hoffman also said that such attempts have led to the court's accumulation of more than 100,000 cases. Ultimately, Hoffman emphasized that he agrees with the European Convention of Human Rights [text], but not the court that executes it.

Hoffman, who is set to retire when the UK Supreme Court opens later this year [JURIST report], has been involved in disputes within the courts before. Hoffman's 1982 ruling that ordered a freelance journalist to disclose sources for an article published in The Engineer magazine was appealed and the case was thrown out by the ECHR in 1989. In 1998, Hoffman failed to disclose ties with Amnesty International [advocacy website] before the House of Lords made a ruling on whether former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] should be granted immunity. This led to an unprecedented overruling [Independent report] of the law lord's decision that Pinochet should not be granted immunity.

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