Human Rights Act 1998

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Law Assignment 13-03-2013

1. “The HRA 1998 provides powerful protection for individuals in many aspects of their lives.” * To what extent is this statement true?
Illustrate your answer by reference to areas of law with which you are familiar.

Before 1998, the United Kingdom did not have a piece of document that specified the basic rights of the English people. However, in the year 1950, the United Kingdom Government signed the European Convention on Human Rights, to protect people’s rights from abuses seen under Hitler’s rule, following the Universal Declaration on Human Rights made by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. Even so, the European Convention on Human Rights had not ratified and incorporated itself into law until 1998 when Parliament enacted the Human Rights Act.

The Human Rights Act 1998 states that when judges are deciding cases in which a question about a Convention right has been brought forward, the court must take into account any judgment, decision, declaration or advisory opinion of the European Court of Human Rights. This means that instead of a conflicting decision by the United Kingdom court, the court must follow decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

An example of this was seen in the case of Re Medicaments (No 2), Director General of Fair Trading v Proprietary Association of Great Britain (2001). The Court of Appeal had refused to follow the decision of the Supreme Court in the earlier case of R v Gough on grounds that it was slightly different to decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

Some Convention rights involve the right to life and liberty. Article 2 of the Convention states that the law shall protect everyone’s right to life. It also recognizes that Member States have the right to impose the death penalty to those convicted of particular crimes. Article 3, on the other hand, states that no one shall be tortured or suffer inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment....
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