The first challenge to the Hunting Act is to be launched today as an application for a Judicial Review is lodged at the High Courts of Justice.
It is based on what the Countryside Alliance (CA) says is the questionable validity of the Parliament Act as it was passed in 1949. Amending the Act back then, MPs decided that the Lords should have less chances to consider legislation on which both houses could not agree. The problem is that this Act was never passed by the Lords.
The challenge is in the names of John Jackson, Patrick Martin and Mair Hughes. Sir Sidney Kentridge QC is leading the case on behalf of the CA.
A second legal challenge to the Hunting Act will claim that the Act contravenes human rights legislation because the absence of compensation provision in the Act fails to account for loss of a way of life. So found the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and this issue was also brought up in the Burns Report.
Both challenges are going to be subjects for debate at the highest level for months, and in the meantime, the hunting community is determined to continue to go about its business. Any arrests made for illegal hunting as these challenges are underway will probably see prosecution deferred, awaiting the outcome of the challenges.
The Countryside Alliance is confident that the Judiciary will find in their favour, and the House of Lords is the highest court in the land. Simon Hart yesterday stressed that this was not the end of the fight, but only the beginning of the second stage.
In the first signs of the campaign of civil disobedience and protest promised by pro-hunt supporters, a 1,000-strong demonstration was staged at the state banquet at Windsor Castle yesterday where the Queen was hosting Prime Minister Tony Blair and the French president, Jacques Chirac.