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Human Rights Law


We take human rights very seriously.


Your rights under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998 are not the only rights you have. To find out how the law protects other rights call us on 0203 417 2929.


The main function of the ECJ, based in Luxembourg, as set out in Article 164 of the Treaty of Rome, is to ensure that in the application and interpretation of the Treaty the law is observed. There are two aspects of the Court's jurisdiction which have been particularly significant in the development of UK labour law. The first is the power of the European Commission to bring proceedings against a Member State for failing to fulfil its Community law obligations. Proceedings brought against the UK led to important amendments in the areas of equal pay and sex discrimination, and, more recently, consultation in the event of proposed dismissals for redundancy or an impending transfer of the undertaking. The second is the power (and in some cases obligation) of national courts to refer a point of Community law which arises in domestic proceedings for a preliminary ruling. Here the principle of direct effect developed by the Court, which allows individuals to rely upon Community law rights before national courts, has once again been significant in the development of equal pay and sex discrimination law, for example in relation to compulsory retirement ages and occupational pensions . There are also important instances where the British courts have applied the principle of "indirect effect", which requires Member States to construe national law to comply with Community obligations, to avoid literal interpretations of the Equal Pay (Amendment) Regulations 1983 and TUPE. The European Communities Act 1972 provides that in domestic proceedings an ECJ ruling is a precedent in future cases involving the same Community provision. See also EPA, Equal Pay Amendment, SDA 1986, Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (Amendment) Regulations 1995.


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 must comply with the Convention rights.


This means, among other things, that individuals can take human rights cases in domestic courts; they no longer must 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


The Human Rights act covers everyone in the United Kingdom, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Anyone who is in the UK for any reason is protected by the provisions in the Human Rights Act.


The rights in the HRA are known as 'justiciable', which means that if an individual think they have been breached, they can take a court case against the public sector body that has breached them. For more information on how rights work in practice.


Some human rights – like the right not to be tortured – are absolute. These ‘absolute’ rights can never be interfered with by the government in any circumstances.


However, most human rights are not absolute. Some of these rights can be limited in certain circumstances, as set out in the specified Article of the European Convention on Human Rights. For example, your right to liberty can be limited only in specified circumstances such as if you are convicted and sentenced to a prison term. Other rights can only be restricted when certain general conditions are met, for example where this is necessary to protect the rights of others or in the interests of the wider community. For example, the government may be able to restrict your right to freedom of expression if you are encouraging racial hatred.


If you believe that your human rights have been violated, we would like to hear from you.


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