Human Rights Act 1998

The Human Rights Act 1998 is a piece of legislation that has a significant impact on UK law and society. It ensures that individuals in the UK have their human rights protected and can enforce them in UK courts.

The Human Rights Act 1998 was introduced to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law. The ECHR is an international treaty that sets out fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, the right to a fair trial, and the right to freedom of expression. By incorporating the Convention into UK law, the Act ensured that individuals in the UK could enforce their human rights in UK courts, rather than having to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The Act has several key provisions. Firstly, it incorporates the ECHR into UK law, which means that UK courts must take the Convention into account when making decisions. Secondly, it creates a duty on public authorities to respect and protect human rights. This means that public authorities, such as the police and government bodies, must ensure that their actions do not violate human rights. Thirdly, the Act allows individuals to bring legal proceedings against public authorities if their human rights have been violated. Finally, it gives UK courts the power to declare that UK law is incompatible with the Convention, and for Parliament to amend the law accordingly.

The impact of the Human Rights Act has been significant. It has allowed individuals to bring cases against public authorities where their human rights have been violated. For example, in the case of A v Secretary of State for the Home Department 2004, the Human Rights Act was used to challenge the government's policy of detaining foreign prisoners in Belmarsh without trial. The court found that this policy violated the right to liberty, and the government was forced to change its policy.

The Act has also had a broader impact on UK law and society. It has encouraged public authorities to take human rights into account when making decisions, and has led to changes in UK law. For example, in the case of A and Others v the UK 2009, the court declared that the government's policy of detaining prisoners indefinitely under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 was incompatible with the Convention. This led to a change in government policy and the repeal of the 2001 Act with the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011.

However, the Human Rights Act has also been the subject of criticism. Some argue that it has given too much power to the judiciary, as judges can declare UK law to be incompatible with the Convention and require Parliament to amend the law. Others argue that it has undermined parliamentary sovereignty, as it allows judges to strike down laws made by Parliament. Additionally, there has been debate around the Act's impact on immigration and national security, with some arguing that it has made it more difficult to deport individuals who pose a threat to national security.

In conclusion, the Human Rights Act 1998 is a significant piece of legislation that has had a major impact on UK law and society. While it has faced criticism, its incorporation of the ECHR into UK law has ensured that individuals in the UK have their human rights protected and can enforce them in UK courts. The Act has also led to changes in UK law, and has encouraged public authorities to take human rights into account when making decisions.
Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
INSEAD
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law

    Terminology

    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

    Exam-focused

    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.