Produced in partnership with Alexander Campbell of Field Court Chambers

The following Public Law guidance note Produced in partnership with Alexander Campbell of Field Court Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Compatibility
  • Parliamentary statements of compatibility
  • Incompatibility

Parliamentary statements of compatibility


The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998) is designed not only to give people a remedy when their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights have been breached, but also to encourage governments and Parliament to give greater thought during the legislative process to whether an intended piece of legislation will be compatible with the ECHR rights.

HRA 1998, s 19 requires a Minister of the Crown in either House of Parliament, before the second reading of a Bill, to make a statement to the effect that the Bill is compatible with the Convention rights or, alternatively, to the effect that s/he is unable to make such a statement, but the government wishes Parliament to proceed with the Bill nevertheless.

The form of the statement

The statement must be in writing, but there is no prescribed manner in which the statement must be published. The statement must be published in such manner(s) as the Minister making it considers appropriate.Human Rights Act 1998, s 19(2)

Forms of legislation which require a statement

HRA 1998, s 19 only applies to Bills (ie to primary legislation). Nevertheless the British government has decided to require Ministers to express a view as to the compatibility of secondary legislation as well. This requirement is, however, not a requirement of HRA 1998.

The effect of a statement of compatibility

The fact that a statement of compatibility has been made is not conclusive evidence that the provision in question is in fact compatible with the ECHR rights. In fact it is not even persuasive authority to the effect that it is compatible.R v