Human Rights Act 1998

The Convention Rights

The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporates the rights set out in the ECHR into UK law, in section 1.[1]

Interpretation of legislation

Section 2 provides that the interpretation UK legislation must take into account Convention rights:

So far as it is possible to do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights.[2]

Declaration of incompatibility

The UK courts can declare that legislation is not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

(2) If the court is satisfied that [a] provision is incompatible with a Convention right, it may make a declaration of that incompatibility.[3]

However, a declaration cannot not stop the law concerned from functioning:

(6) A declaration under this section (“a declaration of incompatibility”)—

(a) does not affect the validity, continuing operation or enforcement of the provision in respect of which it is given; and
(b) is not binding on the parties to the proceedings in which it is made.[4]

If there is a declaration of incompatibility, Parliament decides whether it wants to amend the law. Fewer than 30 declarations of incompatibility were made in the first 10 years of the Human Rights Act.[5]

Acts of public authorities

Human rights apply to decisions and actions taken by public authorities:

It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right.[6]

except if “as the result of one or more provisions of primary legislation, the authority could not have acted differently”.[7] The failure to legislate is also not a breach.

See also

External links


  1. Section 1 The Convention Rights, Human Rights Act 1998,
  2. Section 2 Interpretation of legislation, Human Rights Act 1998,
  3. Section 4 (2), Human Rights Act 1998,
  4. Section 4 (6), Human Rights Act 1998,
  6. Section 6 Acts of public authorities, Human Rights Act 1998,
  7. Section 6 (2), Human Rights Act 1998,