Human Rights Act 1998
What the Act does
The Human Rights Act incorporates provisions from the European Convention
on Human Rights into UK law.
Before the Human Rights Act came into force, people had to take a case to
the European Court in Strasbourg, and even then only when domestic remedies
have been exhausted. The process was costly and could take several years before
the case was finally decided. Since the act came into force most of the European
Convention on Human Rights can be used in domestic courts, however if necessary
cases can still be referred to the european court.
The Human Rights Act:
- makes it unlawful for a public authority to act incompatibly with the
Convention rights and allows for a case to be brought in a UK court or
tribunal against the authority if it does so. However, a public authority
will not have acted unlawfully under the Act if as the result of a provision
of primary legislation it could not have acted differently.
- requires all legislation to be interpreted and given effect as far as
possible compatibly with the Convention rights. Where it is not possible
to do so, a court may
- quash or disapply subordinate legislation or
- if it is a higher court, make a declaration of incompatibility for
primary legislation. This triggers a new power that allows a Minister
to make a remedial order to amend the legislation to bring it into line
with the Convention rights.
- requires UK courts and tribunals to take account of Strasbourg case-law
(i.e. the case-law of the Court and the Commission in Strasbourg, and
the Committee of Ministers). They will also be bound to develop the common
law compatibly with the Convention rights.