Approach with Caution: Sunset Clauses as Safeguards of Democracy?

Molloy, Sean (2021) Approach with Caution: Sunset Clauses as Safeguards of Democracy? European Journal of Law Reform, 23 (2). pp. 147-166. ISSN 1387-2370

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In response to the covid-19 pandemic, leaders across the globe scrambled to adopt emergency legislation. Amongst other things, these measures gave significant powers to governments in order to curb the spreading of a virus, which has shown itself to be both indiscriminate and deadly. Nevertheless, exceptional measures, however necessary in the short term, can have adverse consequences both on the enjoyment of human rights specifically and democracy more generally. Not only are liberties severely restricted and normal processes of democratic deliberation and accountability constrained, but the duration of exceptional powers is often unclear. One potentially ameliorating measure is the use of sunset clauses: dispositions that determine the expiry of a law or regulation within a predetermined period unless a review determines that there are reasons for extension. The paper argues that without effective review processes, far from safeguarding rights and limiting state power, sunset clauses can be utilized to facilitate the transferring of emergency powers while failing to guarantee the very problems of normalized emergency they are included to prevent. Thus, sunset clauses and the review processes that attach to them should be approached with caution.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Emergency legislation, Sunset clauses; Post-legislative review; Covid-19
Subjects: M200 Law by Topic
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2021 15:09
Last Modified: 01 Jan 2022 03:30

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