The following Public Law practice note produced in partnership with Arthur Moore of Gatehouse Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
This Practice Note considers the court’s position as a public authority for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998) and the effect on judgments concerning the relationship between non-state individuals (private individuals)—the so called ‘horizontal effect’ of Convention rights.
The UK was one of the first signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR, also known as the Convention) but prior to HRA 1998 the ECHR was regarded simply as an international treaty, not enforceable directly by private individuals against each other in the domestic courts. The aim of the ECHR was to protect these fundamental rights from interference by a state government, ie ‘vertical effect’.
While the coming into force of HRA 1998 in 2000 radically and deliberately changed this landscape, it is to be noted that no specific provision was made in regard to the enforceability of Convention rights between private individuals. Article 1 of the Convention, which imposes a positive obligation on the state to protect (as opposed to a purely negative obligation not to infringe) the Convention rights of individuals within that state, was not included at all in the list of Convention rights in HRA 1998, Sch 1.
Instead, HRA 1998, s 6(1) makes it unlawful for a public
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