chapter  140
6 Pages

Human Rights Act of 1998

WithHelen Fenwick, Daniel Fenwick

After the 1997 UK general election, the then Labour government committed itself in the Queen’s Speech to introducing a bill incorporating the main provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), receiving those provisions of the Convention into domestic law, came into force in 2000. This chapter considers the key sections of the HRASections 2, 3, and 6-and certain significant decisions as to the effect of these sections. Although the ECHR contains a list of rights that are very similar to those contained in a number of bills or charters of rights, the HRA does not create a bill or charter of rights in the way that, for example, the US Amendments to the Constitution can be said to constitute a Bill of Rights, because those rights have a higher status than “ordinary law,” and other laws conflicting with the rights can be struck down as unconstitutional. In contrast, under the HRA, primary legislation incompatible with the ECHR remains valid and enforceable. Further, unlike the German Basic Law or the US Amendments, the HRA can simply be repealed or amended like any ordinary statute and it is, therefore, in a far more precarious position.