41. Common law principles protective of liberty.

Prior to the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights in United Kingdom law1, judges would interpret common law doctrines so that fundamental freedoms were protected2, and the influence of the Convention grew in the years immediately prior to 1998 especially in the field of freedom of expression3. However, the courts have also allowed the common law to develop in a manner that has often curtailed freedoms and on a number of occasions have interpreted uncertain areas of the common law ungenerously so far as rights and liberties are