Podcast & Column: Covid, Laws & Your Rights

September 22, 2021

[Written by Dr. Anthony Richardson]

Welcome to the first ‘This is Your Law with Dr Anthony Richardson’ law column and podcast. This edition is entitled The Bermuda Constitution: Your Rights Are Not Absolute [Covid 19], Vol. 1.

Your Tool Kit

Your tool kit for this law column and podcast consists of the following:

The Case Of Brewster And The Premier

Well, after a stormy and hotly contested journey to the Supreme Court of Bermuda, the country now has its first decided Covid-19 case on the books, having tested the laws that restrict entry into Bermuda and also testing whether or not Section 11 of the Bermuda Constitution has been breached.

The case, Albert Brewster et al. v The Premier of Bermuda et al., demonstrates that, in times of national emergency, courts are extremely reluctant to rule that laws created to help a government cope with or put an end to that emergency are unlawful. I will not go into the details of this case, as it may be the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

However, in the end, the Supreme Court ruled against the applicants and in favour of the Bermuda Government. Still, I foresee that there will be other challenges to the government’s Covid-19 legislation in the near future, and I will deal with these in later columns and podcasts.

The Bermuda Constitution: Your Rights Are Not Absolute

This may be a shock for many Bermudians to read, but, with very few exceptions, no right given to you by the Bermuda Constitution is an absolute.

This means that, depending on the circumstances, the government can erode or suspend your constitutional rights. For example, the erosion of the right to freedom of movement [there are laws prohibiting you from speeding and from turning parts of South Road or Kindley Field Road into Bermuda’s third, or even fourth, runway]; erosion of your right to freedom of expression [there are laws that prohibit you from entering a room packed with people and misleadingly shouting ‘Fire!’]; or suspending a number of rights at the same time, such as in times of war or during a state of emergency [such as the 1977 Riots].

Was this a shock to you? By clicking the link above on Tool No.3, you can join me now on the podcast, where I go into more detail about your rights in relation to Covid-19 and constitutional law. I will also, for the sake of comparison, refer you to legislation in other jurisdictions. See you on the podcast!

Next on ‘This is Your Law with Dr Anthony Richardson’ law column and podcast

  • 1. The Bermuda Constitution: Your Rights Are Not Absolute [Bermuda’s Unions And Your Right To Protest], Vol. 1a.
  • 2. Covid19 Vaccines In Bermuda: Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Of Quebec, Vol. 2.

This law column and podcast do not provide legal advice and must not be considered as doing so.

- Dr Anthony Richardson is a Bermudian, a former Acting Magistrate of Bermuda, a Senior Parliamentary Counsel and writer of Bermuda legislation, and a senior legal advisor to the Governor and Government of Bermuda. He is an expert in constitutional and administrative law, with over 20 years legal experience. He is a member of the Bermuda Bar and the Bar of England and Wales. Dr Richardson is currently practicing law in London as a member of 9 Bedford Row Chambers and 9 Bedford Row International Chambers. He is also a legal academic, having obtained his dual MPhil/PhD degree in law from the University of London, and having obtained his teaching qualification in Higher Education Teaching from Harvard University, with distinction.

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