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New Hunting Act challenge approved

PRO-HUNT campaigners have won permission for their second legal challenge to the ban on hunting with hounds in England and Wales.

Members of the Countryside Alliance were ruled to have "an arguable case" against the Hunting Act, on human rights grounds by Mr Justice Collins at the High Court in London.

It is unclear yet whether the Alliance itself can join the challenge, or whether it can only be brought in the names of members who say their individual rights have been infringed.

A full judicial review application is expected to take place within the next few months.

The Countryside Alliance claims the ban, which came into force last month, having been steamrollered onto the statute books by the Parliament Act late last year, contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case also raises the issue whether compensation should be paid to those people losing out as a result of the ban, such as farriers, saddlers and feed merchants.

The Hunting Act bans not only fox hunting but also deer-hunting and hare-coursing with dogs in England and Wales.

The first legal challenge to the ban over the legality of the 1949 Parliament Act failed in the Court of Appeal last month.

Three senior judges headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, rejected argument that the 1949 Parliament Act, which MPs used to force through the Hunting Act in the face of opposition from the House of Lords, was invalid.

The House of Lords has been asked to make a final ruling in that challenge. This leads to the ironic situation that the Lords, having rejected an all-out hunting ban, thus forcing the Government to use the Parliament Act to push the legislation through, may yet be the final arbiters of the legality of the Hunting Act itself.