Dumb and Dumber: the Law of Unintended Consequences

British politicians tend to get worked up about the European Court of Human Rights, and not without reason as it seems to prevent the UK from deporting terrorists, rapists, paedophiles and others because it would infringe on their human rights. Somehow, it never seems to prevent other countries doing the same thing.

However, less attention is given to the European Court of Justice. If the European Court of Human Rights is dumb (and, according the the recently retired Lord Chief Justice, has exceeded its powers and at least one other judge agrees), the European Court of Justice is dumber. The witless office-holders of this intellectually and morally bankrupt organisation have issued a series of judgements which have demonstrated an inability to foresee the consequences of their decisions.

In March 2011, in the Test-Achats case, the ECJ determined that gender-based pricing of annuities was illegal. Because, on average, women live longer than men, men had previously got a rather better annuity than women. Very nice for women, but does it really make sense? On the other hand, the ECJ has also decreed that gender-discrimination is also unacceptable in the insurance industry. Women are safer drivers than men (sorry, guys, it's a fact) so they used to get cheaper insurance. Not any longer, thanks to the ECJ.

The most worrying case I know about is the recent decision by the ECJ to allow individuals to seek the removal of search engine results to pages which embarrass them under a 'right to be forgotten' rule. Google and others are supposed to self-regulate this law, which is possibly the most worrying aspect. Not only does  the law apply to non-libelous statements, but decisions are made behind closed doors. The person whose web page is not longer searchable in the EU does not know why this has happened, has no representation and no way to appeal the decision – except, I suppose, by going to the ECJ! Robert Peston, the respected BBC journalist has recently fallen foul of this ruling as is reported on the BBC website. This is a sinister and pernicious piece of law-making which destroys freedom of speech at one stroke. Many fraudsters, sex offenders, despots and thugs will now be able to sleep easy in their beds.

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