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The Human Rights Act

In this section you can find out about The Human Rights Act 1998 and the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to.

The Human Rights Act 1998

The Human Rights Act 1998 (the Act or the HRA) sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to.

In practice, the Act has three main effects:

1. It incorporates the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic British law. This means that if your human rights have been breached, you can take your case to a British court rather than having to seek justice from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

2. It requires all public bodies (like courts, police, local authorities, hospitals and publicly funded schools) and other bodies carrying out public functions to respect and protect your human rights.

3. In practice it means that Parliament will nearly always seek to ensure that new laws are compatible with the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (although ultimately Parliament is sovereign and can pass laws which are incompatible). The courts will also where possible interpret laws in a way which is compatible with Convention rights.

The Human Rights Act came into force in the UK in October 2000.

Download a full copy of the Act.

To find out more about human rights and how they play a part in our everyday lives view our animation.

What human rights are covered by the Act?

The Act sets out your human rights in a series of ‘Articles’. Each Article deals with a different right. These are all taken from the ECHR and are commonly known as ‘the Convention Rights’:

  • Article 2 Right to life
  • Article 3 Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Article 4 Freedom from slavery and forced labour
  • Article 5 Right to liberty and security
  • Article 6 Right to a fair trial
  • Article 7 No punishment without law
  • Article 8 Respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence
  • Article 9 Freedom of thought, belief and religion
  • Article 10 Freedom of expression
  • Article 11 Freedom of assembly and association
  • Article 12 Right to marry and start a family
  • Article 14 Protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms
  • Protocol 1, Article 1 Right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
  • Protocol 1, Article 2 Right to education
  • Protocol 1, Article 3 Right to participate in free elections
  • Protocol 13, Article 1 Abolition of the death penalty

Articles 1 and 13

Articles 1 and 13 of the ECHR do not feature in the Act. This is because the Human Rights Act in itself fulfils these rights. For example, Article 1 says that states must secure the rights of the Convention in their own jurisdiction. The Human Rights Act is the main way of doing this for the UK.

Equally, Article 13 ensures that if people’s rights are violated they are able to access effective remedy – this means they can take their case to court to seek a judgment. The Human Rights Act is designed to ensure that this happens.