Article 10 echr

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a fundamental aspect of human rights law, as it safeguards the freedom of expression. However, this right is not absolute, and understanding its scope and limitations is essential for both students and legal professionals. In this article, you will learn about the significance of Article 10 ECHR, its application in landmark cases, and how it is interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights. Additionally, you will explore the criticisms and controversies surrounding Article 10 ECHR, the damages and remedies awarded in cases of its violation, and gain valuable insights on how to navigate this complex area of law in legal practice. Delve deeper into the jurisprudence of Article 10 ECHR to enhance your knowledge of human rights law and freedom of expression.

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Table of contents

    Understanding Article 10 ECHR

    Article 10 ECHR states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers..."

    The significance of Article 10 ECHR in human rights law

    Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a critically important provision in the field of human rights, as it addresses the fundamental and basic right to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of any democratic society, as it allows for the free exchange of ideas, opinions, and information. The underlying premise of Article 10 ECHR is to ensure that citizens have the right to express their thoughts freely without interference from public authorities or fear of persecution. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that this right is not absolute and that certain restrictions can be imposed, as long as they are clearly defined by law and are necessary to achieve a legitimate aim.

    The scope and limitations of Article 10 ECHR

    The scope of Article 10 ECHR is quite broad, covering a wide range of expressive activities, both in content and in form. Moreover, this article applies not only to speech and written expression but also to non-verbal forms of communication, such as artistic works or conduct that conveys a message.

    In order to better understand the scope and limitations of Article 10 ECHR, the following aspects are essential:
    1. Protected expressions: Freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR encompasses various forms of communication, such as political speech, artistic expression, and commercial speech.
    2. Responsibilities and duties: The exercise of freedom of expression carries with it duties and responsibilities, including the obligation to respect the rights and reputation of others and to protect national security, public order, or public health and morals.
    3. Permissible restrictions: Article 10(2) ECHR sets out the circumstances in which restrictions on freedom of expression may be imposed, provided that they are prescribed by law, have a legitimate aim, and are necessary in a democratic society.

    Moreover, it is important to consider the limitations of Article 10 ECHR, as specified in its second paragraph. These limitations can be summarized in three categories:

    Protection of the rights and reputation of othersPreventing the disclosure of information received in confidenceMaintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary
    National securityPublic safetyTerritorial integrity
    Prevention of disorderPrevention of crimeProtection of public order, public safety, or public health and morals

    Balancing the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR

    An essential aspect of Article 10 ECHR is the process of balancing the individual's right to freedom of expression with the potential need to protect other competing interests. Considering the fact that freedom of expression is not an absolute right, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has developed a three-part test to determine whether a restriction on freedom of expression is justified:

    The three-part test includes: (1) the restriction must be prescribed by law, (2) pursue a legitimate aim, and (3) be necessary in a democratic society.

    Some of the key factors that the ECtHR takes into account when balancing the right to freedom of expression with other interests are:

    • The nature and context of the expression: The content, form and potential impact of the expression, as well as the medium used, are essential factors in determining whether a restriction is justified.
    • The margin of appreciation: The ECtHR recognizes that national authorities are better placed to evaluate local needs and conditions, and therefore grants them a certain margin of appreciation to decide on the need for a restriction on freedom of expression.
    • Proportionality: The ECtHR requires that any restriction on freedom of expression must be proportional to the legitimate aim pursued, striking a fair balance between the individual's rights and the interests of society.

    In practice, the ECtHR has developed extensive case law on the interpretation and application of Article 10 ECHR, further elaborating on the principles and criteria for balancing the competing interests in various factual and legal contexts.

    In conclusion, Article 10 ECHR plays a vital role in upholding and protecting the fundamental right to freedom of expression. Understanding the scope, limitations, and balancing process under this provision is crucial for students of human rights law and anyone interested in the practical application of the right to freedom of expression in Europe.

    Article 10 ECHR Case Law

    The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has dealt with numerous cases concerning the interpretation and application of Article 10 ECHR. The following landmark cases have played a significant role in shaping the understanding and scope of the right to freedom of expression under Article 10:

    • Handyside v. United Kingdom (1976): In this case, the Court established the principle that freedom of expression is applicable not only to ideas and opinions that are favourably received but also to those that offend, shock or disturb. The applicant, a publisher, was convicted for circulating a book deemed obscene under British law. The Court held that the interference with the applicant's freedom of expression was justified, as it pursued a legitimate aim and was necessary in a democratic society.
    • Observer and Guardian v. United Kingdom (“Spycatcher” case, 1991): The Court found a violation of Article 10 ECHR when the UK government prevented newspapers from publishing extracts from a former MI5 agent's book, which contained confidential information. The Court decided that the interference was not necessary in a democratic society, as much of the information had already been published elsewhere and was available to the public.
    • Goodwin v. United Kingdom (1996): The Court held that the conviction of a journalist for not revealing the source of leaked financial information violated Article 10 ECHR. In this case, the Court emphasized the importance of protecting journalistic sources as a fundamental aspect of freedom of expression.
    • Jersild v. Denmark (1994): The Court held that the conviction of a Danish journalist for incitement to racial hatred after broadcasting an interview with racist youths did not violate Article 10 ECHR. The Court reasoned that the journalist had not endorsed the racist views but had sought to expose them as part of a debate on racism in Denmark, thus contributing to a wider public interest.
    • Leyla Şahin v. Turkey (2005): The case concerned the banning of the Islamic headscarf at universities in Turkey. The Court found no violation of Article 10 ECHR, considering that the interference pursued the legitimate aim of protecting the secular nature of the Turkish state and was necessary to secure public order, pluralism, and democratic values.

    The role of the European Court of Human Rights in interpreting Article 10 ECHR

    The European Court of Human Rights has played a vital role in interpreting and applying Article 10 ECHR, developing extensive case law that provides guidance to national authorities and legal practitioners on the scope and limits of the right to freedom of expression. The Court's role involves:

    • Adjudicating individual applications alleging violations of Article 10 ECHR: Individuals can submit applications to the Court claiming that a state party has breached their freedom of expression rights under Article 10. The Court examines these applications to determine whether there has been a violation of the Convention.
    • Establishing general principles and criteria to assess the compatibility of interferences with Article 10 ECHR: Through its case law, the Court has elaborated a set of principles and criteria that determine whether restrictions on freedom of expression can be justified under Article 10(2). These principles and criteria, such as the three-part test and the balancing of competing interests, have become essential tools for assessing compliance with Article 10.
    • Providing guidance to national authorities on the implementation of Article 10 ECHR: The Court's judgments often include recommendations or guidance on how states should implement specific measures to safeguard freedom of expression as required by Article 10 ECHR. This may involve changes in legislation, adjustments to administrative practices, or the provision of effective remedies for those whose rights have been violated.

    The impact of case law on the application of Article 10 ECHR

    The case law of the European Court of Human Rights on Article 10 ECHR has significantly impacted the understanding and application of the right to freedom of expression, both at the national and international level. Some of the main effects of the Court's case law include:

    • Clarification of the scope of Article 10 ECHR: Through its case law, the Court has managed to define the boundaries of what constitutes protected expression under Article 10, as well as the types of interferences that may be justified. This has led to a better understanding of the practical implications of the right to freedom of expression and its limitations.
    • Development of key principles and guidelines: The Court's case law has established core principles, such as the importance of pluralism, tolerance, and broadmindedness in a democratic society, which have become central to the interpretation of Article 10 ECHR. Furthermore, the Court has developed a range of legal tests and criteria, including the three-part test and the balancing of competing interests, which are now widely used in the assessment of compliance with Article 10.
    • Influence on national legislation and practice: The Court's judgments often require states to amend their national laws or practices to ensure compliance with Article 10 ECHR. This has led to significant improvements in the protection of freedom of expression in many European countries, such as the reform of defamation laws, the decriminalization of certain forms of expression, or the strengthening of journalistic freedoms.
    • Contribution to the development of international human rights law: The Court's case law on Article 10 ECHR has also been influential in the development of international human rights standards, as its decisions are often cited and followed by other regional and international courts and monitoring bodies dealing with freedom of expression issues.

    Overall, the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on Article 10 ECHR has had a far-reaching impact on the understanding, protection, and promotion of the right to freedom of expression in Europe and beyond.

    Criticisms and Controversies surrounding Article 10 ECHR

    Despite the significant role that Article 10 ECHR plays in protecting freedom of expression, there have been several criticisms raised regarding its scope and application. Some of the most common criticisms are:

    • Vagueness and uncertainty: Critics argue that the terms used in Article 10 ECHR, such as "necessary in a democratic society" and "legitimate aim," are vague and subject to varying interpretations. This can lead to unpredictability and inconsistency in the application of the right to freedom of expression.
    • Overly broad limitations: According to some critics, the range of legitimate aims listed in Article 10(2) allows for potentially excessive restrictions on freedom of expression. It is argued that this might result in excessive limitations or even censorship, depending on national authorities' interpretations.
    • The margin of appreciation: While the European Court of Human Rights acknowledges that national authorities are in a better position to evaluate local needs, it grants them a margin of appreciation concerning Article 10 ECHR. Critics claim that this margin can result in divergent interpretations and applications of freedom of expression across different countries, leading to potential inequality in the protection of this right.
    • Inadequate protection of certain forms of expression: Some critics argue that Article 10 ECHR does not sufficiently protect certain types of expression, such as hate speech, defamation, or commercial speech, which may have harmful consequences on society or individuals' rights and reputation.
    • Enforcement and implementation challenges: Lastly, critics raise concerns about the effectiveness of the enforcement of Article 10 ECHR and its implementation at the national level. Issues such as the timeliness of the Court's judgments, the lack of effective remedies, and the influence of political considerations on the application of Article 10 are seen as possible hindrances to the realization of the right to freedom of expression.

    The debate on Article 10 ECHR and freedom of expression

    The debate on Article 10 ECHR and freedom of expression revolves around key questions regarding the scope and limitations of this fundamental right. These questions include:

    • Defining the limits of freedom of expression: Determining the appropriate boundaries of freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR remains a matter of discussion. The debate involves striking a fair balance between protecting the right to express one's opinions and ideas and ensuring the protection of other rights and interests, such as national security, public order, or the rights and reputation of others.
    • Dealing with new forms of expression: The rapid development of technology and the emergence of new forms of expression, such as social media, raise novel challenges for the application of Article 10 ECHR. This has led to debates about how to protect freedom of expression online while addressing issues such as fake news, cyberbullying, or the spread of extremist content.
    • Reconciling freedom of expression with other rights: Another central aspect of the debate involves the reconciliation of the right to freedom of expression with other human rights, such as the right to privacy, the right to be forgotten, or the right to non-discrimination. Finding an appropriate balance between these rights is a critical challenge for the application of Article 10 ECHR.
    • Addressing the influence of political considerations: The application of Article 10 ECHR can be influenced by political considerations, which may affect the protection of freedom of expression. Debates arise regarding the need to ensure the independence and impartiality of the institutions responsible for upholding freedom of expression, as well as to counteract the impact of political pressures on the application of Article 10.

    Addressing challenges to Article 10 ECHR

    In order to address the criticisms and challenges surrounding Article 10 ECHR, various measures and proposals have been suggested to strengthen the protection of freedom of expression, including:

    • Clarifying the legal framework: One proposal involves refining or clarifying the wording of Article 10 ECHR to reduce ambiguity and uncertainty. This could be achieved through amendments to the Convention, supplementary protocols, or authoritative interpretive guidelines.
    • Enhancing consistency in the application of Article 10 ECHR: Efforts to promote consistency in the interpretation and application of Article 10 ECHR can help address concerns about divergent approaches or potential inequality in the protection of freedom of expression. This can be achieved through measures such as binding guidelines for national authorities, increased dialogue between the European Court of Human Rights and national courts, or the promotion of harmonized legislative standards.
    • Improving the enforcement and implementation mechanisms: Strengthening the mechanisms for enforcing and implementing Article 10 ECHR is crucial to tackle concerns about the effectiveness of remedies and the timeliness of the Court's judgments. Measures that could be considered include increasing funding for the Court, improving the availability of effective remedies at the national level, or providing training and education programs for legal professionals on Article 10 ECHR.
    • Addressing the impact of new technologies: Developing guidelines or legal frameworks that specifically address the challenges posed by new technologies and forms of expression is essential to ensure the continued protection of freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR. This might include the adoption of specific legislation or policies covering online expression, the promotion of digital literacy and education, or the introduction of mechanisms to address online harassment and other harmful content.
    • Promoting human rights education and awareness-raising: Enhancing public understanding of the importance of Article 10 ECHR and freedom of expression can contribute to a more informed and balanced debate on the scope and limitations of this right. This can be achieved through human rights education programs for students and citizens, as well as targeted awareness-raising campaigns.

    Addressing the challenges and criticisms surrounding Article 10 ECHR is crucial to ensure the effective protection and promotion of the fundamental right to freedom of expression in Europe.

    Damages and Remedies in Article 10 ECHR Cases

    When the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) finds a violation of Article 10 ECHR, it may award damages to the applicant as a form of redress. The types of damages awarded in such cases can be broadly classified into three categories:

    1. Material damages: This form of compensation is granted to cover the actual and concrete financial losses suffered by the applicant as a result of the violation of Article 10 ECHR. Material damages can include loss of income, legal costs, or expenses incurred by the applicant.
    2. Non-material damages: Non-material damages compensate the applicant for non-economic harm resulting from the violation, such as emotional distress, mental anguish, or reputational damage. The amount awarded for non-material damages varies depending on factors such as the intensity of the suffering and the importance of the right in question.
    3. Costs and expenses: The Court may also order the state to reimburse the costs and expenses incurred by the applicant in bringing the case before the national courts and the ECtHR, provided that they are reasonable and properly documented.

    Factors considered when awarding damages in Article 10 ECHR cases

    The ECtHR takes multiple factors into account when determining the appropriate amount of damages to be awarded in Article 10 ECHR cases. Some of the key factors to be considered include:

    • Severity of the violation: The Court examines the nature and extent of the interference with the applicant's freedom of expression, including factors such as the degree of state involvement, the impact on the applicant's rights, and the duration of the violation.
    • Material losses and financial consequences: The Court considers the direct financial loss suffered by the applicant as a result of the violation, as well as any indirect or consequential economic damage.
    • Non-material harm and impact on the applicant: The Court takes into account the non-economic harm sustained by the applicant, such as emotional distress, mental suffering, or damage to their reputation. The amount of non-material damages awarded will depend on factors such as the degree of suffering and the importance of the violated right.
    • Conduct of the applicant and the state: The Court considers the actions of both the applicant and the state authorities in relation to the violation of Article 10, including aspects such as the applicant's conduct in claiming their rights and the state's efforts to redress the violation or prevent its recurrence.
    • Equitable considerations: The Court seeks to strike a fair balance between the interests of the applicant and the state when determining the appropriate amount of damages to be awarded. This involves taking into account the overall fairness of the compensation in light of the specific circumstances of the case.

    In some cases, the Court may decide to award only a symbolic or nominal amount of damages, often referred to as "just satisfaction," when it considers that the finding of a violation itself serves as sufficient redress for the applicant.

    Notable cases involving damages for Article 10 ECHR violations

    Several notable cases illustrate the damages awarded by the ECtHR for violations of Article 10 ECHR:

    • Tolstoy Miloslavsky v. United Kingdom (1995): In this defamation case, the applicant was required to pay a record sum in damages to the plaintiff under UK law. The ECtHR found a violation of Article 10, holding that the disproportionate amount of damages awarded had a chilling effect on freedom of expression. The Court ordered the UK to pay the applicant a specified amount in compensation for the damages originally awarded against him.
    • Steel and Morris v. United Kingdom (2005): Often referred to as the "McLibel" case, the applicants were sued for defamation by a fast-food corporation and ordered to pay significant damages under UK law. The Court found that the lack of legal aid available to the applicants and the enormous imbalance between the parties violated Article 10 ECHR. The Court awarded the applicants non-material damages for the stress and anxiety they experienced during the protracted litigation process.
    • Verein gegen Tierfabriken Schweiz (VgT) v. Switzerland (2001): The applicant, an animal rights organization, was banned from broadcasting a television commercial by the Swiss authorities. The ECtHR found a violation of Article 10 ECHR, ruling that the restriction was not necessary in a democratic society. The Court awarded the applicant non-material damages to compensate for the frustration and inconvenience caused by the authorities' actions.

    The ECtHR's case law involving damages in Article 10 ECHR cases underscores the importance of striking a fair balance between the right to freedom of expression and competing interests, as well as ensuring appropriate redress for those whose rights have been violated.

    A Comprehensive Guide to Article 10 ECHR

    A solid understanding of Article 10 ECHR is crucial for students and legal professionals alike. Grasping the essentials involves examining several key components of this fundamental right, including scope, limitations, and the balancing of competing interests. It's also vital to comprehend the procedural aspects surrounding the application of Article 10 ECHR, including the role of national courts, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), and the available remedies in case of violation.

    Some essentials elements that students and legal professionals must be familiar with are:

    • Text of Article 10 ECHR: Legal professionals and students should thoroughly study the text of Article 10 ECHR, as it provides the foundation for understanding freedom of expression principles within the context of the Convention.
    • Protected expressions: It's essential to comprehend the range of expressive activities (e.g., political, artistic and commercial speech) that are protected under Article 10 ECHR, as well as potential limitations on these freedoms.
    • Margin of Appreciation: Understanding the concept of the margin of appreciation and how it impacts the interpretation of Article 10 ECHR is crucial, as it allows for some flexibility in the application of freedom of expression standards by national authorities.
    • Three-Part Test: Legal professionals and students should familiarize themselves with the three-part test developed by the ECtHR to assess the compatibility of restrictions on freedom of expression with Article 10 ECHR. This test involves determining whether a restriction is (1) prescribed by law, (2) pursues a legitimate aim, and (3) is necessary in a democratic society.
    • Case Law: By studying the ECtHR's case law on Article 10 ECHR, legal professionals and students can gain a comprehensive understanding of how the Court has interpreted and applied this article in various factual and legal contexts.

    Understanding the jurisprudence of Article 10 ECHR

    The jurisprudence of Article 10 ECHR is a critical aspect to comprehend fully, as it provides essential guidance on the interpretation and application of the right to freedom of expression. To thoroughly understand the jurisprudence, students and legal professionals must immerse themselves in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Studying the landmark cases, along with more recent decisions, equips students and practitioners with valuable insights into the evolving nature of freedom of expression rights under Article 10 ECHR.

    Key areas to explore regarding the jurisprudence of Article 10 ECHR include:

    • Landmark Cases: Familiarity with the most influential Article 10 ECHR cases, such as Handyside v. United Kingdom, Observer and Guardian v. United Kingdom, and Goodwin v. United Kingdom, is crucial to grasp the evolving interpretation of the right to freedom of expression by the ECtHR.
    • Principles and Criteria: Legal professionals and students must understand the general principles, criteria, and legal tests established by the ECtHR through its case law, such as the three-part test, the margin of appreciation, the necessity of a restriction in a democratic society, and the principle of proportionality.
    • Application to Specific Forms of Expression: It's essential to examine how the Court has applied Article 10 ECHR to tackle various forms of expression, including hate speech, defamation, whistle-blowing, and the dissemination of information on matters of public interest. The Court's approach often reveals the delicate balance between freedom of expression and other competing interests or rights.
    • Interactions with Other Rights: The ECtHR's jurisprudence often involves analysing Article 10 ECHR's interplay with other human rights provisions, such as the right to privacy (Article 8 ECHR), the right to a fair trial (Article 6 ECHR), or the prohibition of discrimination (Article 14 ECHR). Understanding this interplay is crucial to appreciate the complexity of cases involving freedom of expression and other rights.

    A practical guide to navigating Article 10 ECHR in legal practice

    Legal practitioners should be well-equipped to navigate Article 10 ECHR in their practice, both when advising clients and when litigating cases involving freedom of expression. Some practical considerations to successfully apply Article 10 ECHR in legal practice include:

    1. Identifying Article 10 ECHR Interferences: Legal practitioners should be skilled in recognising situations where Article 10 ECHR may be engaged and be capable of assessing whether an interference with freedom of expression is justified under the Convention.
    2. Mastering National Procedural Requirements: To effectively represent clients in cases concerning Article 10 ECHR, legal practitioners should be familiar with their national procedural requirements, such as the available legal remedies, the necessary steps to exhaust domestic remedies, and the deadlines for filing cases before national courts.
    3. Considering the ECtHR's Case Law: To build convincing arguments, legal practitioners should be adept at using relevant ECtHR case law in their submissions to national courts or the ECtHR itself, highlighting the general principles and legal tests applicable to the specific facts of their case.
    4. Developing Effective Advocacy Strategies: Successful legal practice in Article 10 ECHR cases requires the ability to develop compelling advocacy strategies. This includes framing the case within the scope of the right to freedom of expression, using persuasive legal arguments, and presenting the case in a manner that aligns with the ECtHR’s jurisprudence.
    5. Managing Expectations: Legal practitioners need to manage their clients' expectations when dealing with Article 10 ECHR cases, providing realistic assessments of the prospects of success and ensuring that clients understand the potential outcomes, risks, and costs associated with such cases.

    By mastering these practical skills and cultivating a deep understanding of Article 10 ECHR's essentials and relevant jurisprudence, legal professionals can effectively represent and advocate for clients in cases involving freedom of expression.

    Article 10 echr - Key takeaways

    • Article 10 ECHR: Protects the fundamental right to freedom of expression, allowing for the free exchange of ideas, opinions, and information in a democratic society.

    • Scope and limitations: This right is not absolute, and certain restrictions may be imposed, such as protecting national security or the rights and reputations of others.

    • European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR): Develops a three-part test for determining the legitimacy of restrictions on freedom of expression, considering factors such as proportionality and the margin of appreciation.

    • Article 10 ECHR case law: Landmark decisions from the ECtHR have shaped understanding and application of the freedom of expression, for example in cases such as Handyside v. United Kingdom and Goodwin v. United Kingdom.

    • Criticisms and controversies: Concerns about vagueness, overly broad limitations, and enforcement challenges have prompted proposals to amend the Convention, provide binding guidelines, or increase funding for the Court.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Article 10 echr
    What is Article 10 of the ECHR?
    Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) protects the right to freedom of expression in the UK. It covers the freedom to hold opinions, share information, and express ideas without interference from public authorities or undue restrictions. However, this right is not absolute and may be subject to certain restrictions to protect national security, public safety, or the rights and reputations of others. These restrictions must be prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society.
    Is Article 10 ECHR a qualified right?
    Yes, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a qualified right. This means that it is not absolute, and restrictions can be placed on the exercise of this right if required by law, necessary in a democratic society, and proportionate to the legitimate aim being pursued. Article 10 protects the right to freedom of expression while allowing for certain restrictions to protect public interests and the rights of others.
    Is Article 10 of the ECHR an absolute right?
    Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is not an absolute right. It guarantees the right to freedom of expression, but this right is subject to certain restrictions. These restrictions may be necessary, for instance, in the interests of national security, public safety, or maintaining the rights and freedoms of others. Each case must be considered individually to balance the right to freedom of expression with the competing interests.
    What does Article 10 of the ECHR mean?
    Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) refers to the protection of freedom of expression. It means that everyone has the right to express their opinions, ideas, and information without interference from public authorities. However, this right is subject to certain restrictions in the interest of national security, public safety, or maintaining the authority of the judiciary, among other reasons. These restrictions must be prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society.
    When was Article 10 of the ECHR written into UK law?
    Article 10 ECHR was written into UK law when the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force on 2nd October 2000. This Act incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article 10 concerning freedom of expression, into domestic UK law.

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