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The Human Rights Act

In this section you can find out about The Human Rights Act 1998 and the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to.


The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to. It incorporates the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic British law. The Human Rights Act came into force in the UK in October 2000.

Articles 1 and 13

Articles 1 and 13 of the ECHR do not feature in the Act. This is because, by creating the Human Rights Act, the UK has fulfilled these rights.

For example, Article 1 says that states must secure the rights of the Convention in their own jurisdiction. The Human Rights Act is the main way of doing this for the UK.

Article 13 makes sure that if people’s rights are violated they are able to access effective remedy. This means they can take their case to court to seek a judgment. The Human Rights Act is designed to make sure this happens.

What does the Act do?

The Act has three main effects:

1. You can seek justice in a British court

It incorporates the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic British law. This means that if your human rights have been breached, you can take your case to a British court rather than having to seek justice from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

2. Public bodies must respect your rights

It requires all public bodies (like courts, police, local authorities, hospitals and publicly funded schools) and other bodies carrying out public functions to respect and protect your human rights.

3. New laws are compatible with Convention rights

In practice it means that Parliament will nearly always make sure that new laws are compatible with the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (although ultimately Parliament is sovereign and can pass laws which are incompatible). The courts will also, where possible, interpret laws in a way which is compatible with Convention rights.

Find out more about human rights and how they play a part in our everyday lives: what are human rights?

Download a full copy of the Human Rights Act.

 

Last updated: 15 Nov 2018