The Human Rights Act 1998

This essay will outline the main attributes of the Human Rights Act 1998 and seek to argue that it does not go far enough to protect an individual’s rights. It will explain the difference between the procedural and substantive protection on offer to an individual and will show that whilst on a procedural level the rights appear to be protected, this is in fact not the case. The diversity of academic commentary on this topic will be explained to further enhance the essay’s argument that more is required in order to adequately protect an individual’s rights.

The majority of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) came into force in the UK on 2 October 2000 and enabled individuals to rely upon their European Convention on Human Courts (ECHR) rights in the domestic courts. There is a clear divide amongst the academics as to whether the Act has gone far enough to protect the rights of individuals in the UK. Whilst there is no denying that the HRA has afforded British residents the opportunity to use their rights in the courts, whether this amounts to a true protection of their rights will now be debated.
The Human Rights Act 1998
One of the main attractions of the HRA is that it allows individuals to pursue remedies against public organisations/bodies in the domestic courts as opposed to going to Strasbourg (Section 6, HRA). Before the HRA, if an individual alleged that one of their Convention rights had been breached, then the only course of action available to them was to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The HRA makes it illegal for any public body or organisation to breach an individual’s Convention rights (Section 6, HRA). Additionally, judges are now required to consider “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.” (Section 3(1), HRA). If this is not possible, then judges are under a duty to issue a declaration of incompatibility (Sections 4 and 10, HRA). It is important to note the limitation of their powers and they are no power to strike down the primary legislation, despite its incompatibility. One of the reasons for this is constitutionally, which is to maintain Parliament’s sovereign nature. This is one of the key criticisms facing the HRA as arguably it affords little protection to individuals whose rights are being violated due to a piece of legislation being incompatible with their ECHR rights.
However, the statistics show that out of 28 cases where a declaration of incompatibility was issued, only case remains open for remedy (Ministry of Justice, 2012). This one exception is the controversial case of Chester v Secretary of State for Justice [2010] EWCA Civ 1439 which involves the right of prisoners to vote in elections. It has become something of a political football, but arguably the statistic alone shows that Parliament has taken the issue of incompatibility seriously as remedies have been provided in the other 27 cases. The other remedy available is the award of damages under section 8(1) of HRA.
Rights Protected by HRA
One of the over-arching principles of the HRA is that public bodies treat individuals equally and with respect. The Act allows the rights under the ECHR to be given effect into UK law and ensures individuals enjoy rights such as right to life (Article 2), the right not to be tortured (Article 3) and the right to a private and family life (Article 8). However, these rights have been used in various areas of law by lawyers such as planning applications (Coster v UK [2001] 33 EHRR 20).
Whilst this appears to be positive protection of individual rights, there are numerous examples of breaches of the Convention rights since the introduction of the HRA. One such instance is the right to privacy being curtailed through the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 which has permitted government at the local level to carry out covert surveillance. Although on the other side of the argument, it can be shown that the introduction of HRA has allowed individuals to successfully pursue claims of invasion of privacy, not permitted before the HRA. These include Max Mosley and Naomi Campbell (Max Mosley v News Group Newspapers Limited [2008] EWHCC 177 and Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd [2004] UKHL 22).
Academic Commentary
Academics are divided in their opinions regarding the effect of the HRA on the protection of individual rights. On the one hand, some academics perceive the introduction of the HRA to be a positive development in human rights in creating an expectation of privacy (Fenwick, 2013), whilst others would disagrees with this contention and point to other areas of law where rights are being violated. One such example is Article 6 right to a fair trial, where Hoyano argues that the increased use of hearsay and bad character evidence are ensuring that individuals struggle to obtain fair trials in the UK (Hoyano, 2014). Furthermore, it has been suggested that, “The Act is widely blamed for administrative and judicial decisions that have been caricatured as privileging the rights of criminals and terrorists.” (Wadham, et al., 2011, p 14). Overall, the Act has been controversial and reforms are most likely in the future.
To conclude, the HRA requires all courts and tribunals in the UK to interpret legislation in accordance with the Convention rights which primarily ensures a borderline protection of rights on a procedural level. Furthermore, section 6(1) of HRA makes it unlawful for a public body to act in a way to contravene Convention rights and therefore all public duties are now under a duty to act in accordance with an individual’s Convention rights. However, a declaration of incompatibility can be sought and such a remedy is a first in the UK. Individuals still have the right to pursue their claim in Strasbourg and the European Court of Human Rights remains the final point of appeal in allegations of breach of human rights. In this respect, it can be argued that an individual’s rights are protected in a procedural sense as they can now pursue remedies in the domestic courts which is a far easier and cheaper solution. However, on a substantive level, there are criticisms that the Act does not far enough and instead human rights are curtailed. The presence of such violations ensure that the Act does not adequately protect rights, although arguably it is a significant step in the right direction.
Fenwick, D & Fenwick, H 2013 ‘The Changing face of protection for individual privacy against the press: Leveson, the Royal Charter and tort liability,’ International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, vol 27, no 3, 1 November 2013, pp. 241-279.
Hoyano, L. 2014 ‘What is balanced on the scales of justiceIn search of the essence of the right to a fair trial’ Criminal Law Review vol 1, pp. 4-29.
Wadham, J., Mountfield, H., Prochaska, E., Brown, C., 2011. Blackstone’s Guide to the Human Rights Act 1998. 6th ed. Oxford: OUP
Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd [2004] UKHL 22
Coster v UK [2001] 33 EHRR 20
Chester v Secretary of State for Justice [2010] EWCA Civ 1439
Max Mosley v News Group Newspapers Limited [2008] EWHCC 177
Human Rights Act 1998
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
Ministry of Justice, 2012. Responding to Human Rights Judgments: Report to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the Government response to human rights judgments 2011-12 [pdf] London: Ministry of Justice. Available at [Accessed 3 February 2014]

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
The Human Rights Act 1998
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay
Order a unique copy of this paper
(550 words)

Approximate price: $22

Basic features
  • Free title page and bibliography
  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 support
On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
  • Expert Proofreading
Paper format
  • 275 words per page
  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our guarantees

Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

Read more

Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

Read more

Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

Read more

Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

Read more

Fair-cooperation guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

Read more

Calculate the price of your order

550 words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
The price is based on these factors:
Academic level
Number of pages
Order your essay today and save 25% with the discount code: COCONUTPlace Order
Live Chat+1(978) 822-0999EmailWhatsApp