The Human Rights Act
The Human Rights Act 1998 (also known as the Act or the HRA) came into force in the United Kingdom in October 2000. It is composed of a series of sections that have the effect of codifying the protections in the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.
All public bodies (such as courts, police, local governments, hospitals, publicly funded schools, and others) and other bodies carrying out public functions have to comply with the Convention rights.
This means, among other things, that individuals can take human rights cases in domestic courts; they no longer have to go to Strasbourg to argue their case in the European Court of Human Rights.
The Act sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that individuals in the UK have access to. They include:
- Right to life
- Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
- Right to liberty and security
- Freedom from slavery and forced labour
- Right to a fair trial
- No punishment without law
- Respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence
- Freedom of thought, belief and religion
- Freedom of expression
- Freedom of assembly and association
- Right to marry and start a family
- Protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms
- Right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
- Right to education
- Right to participate in free elections
Download a full copy of the Act: Human Rights Act 1998.
For more information on where your human rights are set out, who the Human Rights Act applies to, and if human rights can be restricted, see How do human rights work?
For some case studies on how the HRA works in practice, see our publication entitled Ours to Own, which shows the difference that the HRA can make in people's everyday lives.
The Ministry of Justice has produced a guide to the Act and an Easy-Read booklet explaining what the Act means. Below are links to these resources as well as copies of the Human Rights Act in other languages:
- Human Rights Act - a guide
- Human Rights Act (pdf, 56K)
- A Guide to the Human Rights Act: a booklet for people with learning disabilities (pdf, 351K)
- Human Rights Act - Arabic (pdf, 290K)
- Human Rights Act - Cantonese (pdf, 364K)
- Human Rights Act - French (pdf, 125K)
- Human Rights Act - Gujarati (pdf, 324K)
- Human Rights Act - Polish (pdf, 269K)
- Human Rights Act - Punjabi (pdf, 335K)
- Human Rights Act - Somali (pdf, 120K)
- Human Rights Act - Tamil (pdf, 136K)
- Human Rights Act - Urdu (pdf, 623K)
- Human Rights Act - Welsh (pdf, 183K)
- Help with pdf files
Last Updated: 07 May 2014