An introduction to the Human Rights Act 1998
An introduction to the Human Rights Act 1998

The following Public Law guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • An introduction to the Human Rights Act 1998
  • Convention rights
  • Statement of compatibility
  • Interpretation of the Convention rights
  • Retrospective effect
  • Incompatibility
  • Public authorities
  • Judicial remedies
  • The future

Convention rights

The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998) came into force in October 2000 and gives effect to the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (the Convention rights). The ECHR is an international binding treaty reflecting the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. The UK ratified the ECHR in 1951, but it only became binding in UK law with the introduction of the HRA 1998.

In particular, HRA provides:

  1. a remedy in the UK courts for breach of a Convention right without the need for the claimant party to seek redress in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg

  2. that primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be interpreted in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights

  3. the UK courts with the power to make a declaration of 'incompatibility', if that court is satisfied that a provision of primary legislation is incompatible with a Convention right, and in such event empowering ministers of the Crown to make amendments to that legislation as may be necessary to remove the incompatibility, and

  4. that it is unlawful for a public authority (including a court or a tribunal) to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right

.The Convention rights are the right to:

  1. life (article 2)

  2. protection from torture (article 3)

  3. prohibition