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Coronavirus and parliament: A brief history of sunset clauses

Is this kind of provision an adequate safeguard against the normalisation of emergency powers?

By Sean Molloy  

Sunset clauses are provisions that determine the expiry of a law or regulation within a predetermined period. Through their use, legislation or a section of legislation automatically ceases in its effect after a certain time. In theory, sunset clauses can limit the potential reach and adverse impacts of governments that adopt legislation in response to emergency situations, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, the Coronavirus Act 2020 contains several such provisions and this was viewed as essential in limiting the duration of radical powers. However, it is important to…

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