The Human Rights Act 1998

Human Right Act 1998


The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporates the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 ('The Convention') into UK domestic law.

Rights Covered by the Act

The most important rights covered by the act include:

  • the right to life
  • the right to liberty and security
  • the right to a fair trial
  • the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  • the freedom of expression
  • the freedom of assembly
  • the prohibition of discrimination
  • the right to free elections

The Doctrine of Precedent

Judges will not be bound by a previous interpretation of existing legislation where it did not take into account rights contained in the Convention.

Compatibility of Legislation with the Convention

Existing legislation must be interpreted so it is compatible with the rights listed under the Convention. If a court feels that legislation is incompatible it may make a 'declaration of incompatibility.' This does not make the legislation invalid; it is left to Parliament to remedy the situation through new legislation, where necessary.

Bellinger v Bellinger (2003)

Facts: The House of Lords had to consider whether or not a male to female transsexual could be treated as a female under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

Held: The court was unable to interpret the Act to allow the transsexual to be considered female. It did however issue a declaration of incompatibility.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 addressed the issue in Bellinger v Bellinger (2003). The purpose of the Act is to provide transsexual people with legal recognition in their acquired gender. This is an example of the passing of a statute to put right a perceived unfair outcome of a case.

Created at 8/20/2012 10:00 AM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London
Last modified at 11/14/2012 1:59 PM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London

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Doctrine of Precedent

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