Q&As

Are universities, higher education institutions and/or further education colleges operating in Wales considered public authorities for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998?

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Produced in partnership with Christopher McFarland
Published on LexisPSL on 12/12/2018

The following Public Law Q&A Produced in partnership with Christopher McFarland provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Are universities, higher education institutions and/or further education colleges operating in Wales considered public authorities for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998?
  • The general approach
  • Universities
  • Further educational colleges

The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998) requires public authorities not to act in ways which are incompatible with the rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). If a body exercises public functions, then it is capable of being held liable for breach of Convention rights in respect of acts which are public in nature.

It is assumed that the institutions described are not seeking to act in a manner which is purely private in nature so as to fall foul of the exception noted in HRA 1998, s 6(5). Private acts are excluded as the EHCR was not intended to regulate purely private relationships.

Factors to be considered in determining the public or private nature of an act include the extent to which the body is publicly funded, exercises statutory powers, takes the place of central government or local authorities or provides a public service.

The general approach

In the first instance, we refer you to the following Practice Note: Public authorities under the Human Rights Act 1998, which sets out the wider legislative and common law approach to this Q&A.

It is important to note that, at the time of writing, HRA 1998, s 6 applies equ

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