Former Court of Appeal judge Sir Peter Gross has been appointed to lead an independent review of the Human Rights Act, the BBC understands.
The government wants to examine whether the 1998 act – which allows UK nationals to rely on the European Convention of Human Rights in domestic courts – is working effectively.
A panel of eight is expected to report its findings by next summer.
It is understood to be made up of senior lawyers and academics.
While previous Conservative governments had promised to replace the Human Rights Act entirely with a new Bill of Rights, the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto said it would only be “updated”.
The ECHR predates the European Union and is separate to it.
The government insists it remains committed to the European Convention – which includes articles on fair trials, freedom of expression, free elections and privacy – but wants to look at its application in the UK.
It says the case law of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has evolved over time and it’s right to look at how British courts respond.
The panel, led by Sir Peter, is expected to evaluate whether UK judges are being drawn into policy matters, traditionally decided by politicians.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland recently described prisoner votes – mandated by the court in Strasbourg but opposed by the government – as one “difficult case” relating to the Human Rights Act.
Ministers see the review as part of a wider constitutional reappraisal, examining the relationship between the judiciary, the executive and Parliament.
A separate panel is already looking at whether there is a need to reform the process of judicial review – where a judge decides the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
Campaigners say the government is already trying to place limitations on the Human Rights Act through other proposed legislation.
And Labour accused ministers of launching an attack on human rights, saying the review was not required.