Human Rights Act

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The Human Right Act 1998 is an act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which received Royal Assent on 9 November 1998, and mostly came into force on 2 October 2000.It’s aim is to “give further effect” in UK law to the right contained in the European Convention on Human Right. The Act makes available in UK courts a remedy for breach of a Convention right, without the need to go to the European Court of Human Right in Strasbourg. It also totally abolished the death penalty in UK law although this was not required by the Convention in force for the UK at that time.

In particular, the Act makes it unlawful for any public body to act in a way which is incompatible with the Convention, unless the wording of an Act of Parliament means they have no other choice. It also requires UK judges to take account of decisions of the Strasbourg. Court and to interpet legislatron,as far as possible, in a way which is compatible with the convention.However,if it is not possible to interpret an Act of Parliament so as to make it compatible with the Convention, the judges are not allowed to override it. All they can do is issue a dedaration of incompatibility. This declaration does not effect the validity of the Act of parliament, in the way, the Human Right Act seeks to maintain the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty.

The convention was drafted by the council of Europe after World War 2.Sir David Maxwell-Fyye was the chair of Council’s legal and administrative division from 1949 to 1952,and oversaw the drafting of the European Convention on Human Rights. It was designed to incorporate a traditional civil liberties approach to securing “effective political democracy”, from the strong traditions of freedom and liberty in the united kingdom. As a founding member of the council of Europe, the UK acceded to the European convention on human Rights in March 1951.However it was not until Harold Wilson’s government in the 1960 that British citizens where alde to bring claims in the European Court of Human Rights. Over the 1980s.it was widely perceived that the executive misused its power and that, with movements like charter 88 (which invoked the 300th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and the Bill of Right 1689) a British Bill of Rights was needed to secure a human right culture at home.

The Labour party incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into law throught the Human Rights Act 1998.The 1997 white paper “Rights Brought Home” started: It takes on average years to get an action into the European Court of Human Rights once all domestic remedies have been exhausted and it costs an average paun 30,000.Bringing these rights home will mean that the British people will be able to argue for this rights in the British courts without this inordinate delay and cost.

The Human Rights Act places a duty on all courts and tribunals in the United Kingdom to interpet legislation so far as possible in a way compatible with the rights laid down in the European convention on Human Rights section 3(1). The limits to judicial creativity have been much debated but it is now clear that the courts cannot interpet Acts of Parliament in a way that would undermine their clear meaning. Where it is not possible to interpet an Act in compliance with the convention, a declaration of incompatibility may be issued by the court under section 4, starting how legislation appears to breach human rights. The declaration does not invalidate the legislaration,but permits the amendment of the legislation by a special fast-track procedure under section 10 of the Act. As of August 2006,20 declarations had been made, of which 6 were overturned on appeal. The Human Rights Act applies to all public bodies with in the United Kingdom, including central government, local authorities, and bodies exercising public function. It also includes the courts.However,it does not include Parliament when it is acting in its legislative capacity.

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