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7 The Human Rights Act

Download The Human Rights Act (PDF File, 1.92Mb)

1. Introduction

2. Where did the Human Rights Act start?

3. How does the Human Rights Act work?

4. What can I do if I think my rights have been breached?

5. Which cases doesn't the Act cover?

Sometimes a court won't be able to do anything about your rights being breached. The Human Rights Act doesn't allow the courts to overrule an Act of Parliament. If the courts can't interpret or apply a particular Act of Parliament in a way that respects or fits in with people's Convention rights, all they can do is make what's called a 'declaration of incompatibility'. The Government and Parliament then have to decide if the law should be changed. But until or unless that happens, the courts have to apply the law as it is, even though it does not fit in with Convention rights. The courts will not be able to award you any compensation.

If you find yourself in this situation, you could think about applying to the European Court of Human Rights, because the Court in Strasbourg can award compensation.

The Human Rights Act allows people to bring a case only against an organisation that is a public authority. So a person who is employed by, for example, a local council can take proceedings against their employer, but a person who is employed by a private company cannot.

Even so, the Act affects court cases between individuals and private organisations. This is because it changes the way the courts interpret and develop the existing law. The courts are already using Article 8 of the Convention (the right to respect for private and family life) to develop a law of privacy that will affect private individuals and organisations as well as public authorities.

6. The articles of the Act in detail

7. The protocols in detail

8. Further Help

9. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Liberty.

Leaflet version: September 2006