- Peter Leyland
- and Gordon Anthony
This chapter provides an introduction to the ways in which human rights law limits the actions of government and public authorities. It begins by setting out the salient features of the protection of rights under common law and then goes on to explain the reasons for the introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK domestic law. The remainder of the chapter provides an overview of how the mechanisms in the Human Rights Act 1998 apply in the sphere of public law. This includes considering how, under section 2, UK courts must take into account decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) when hearing cases under the Act; how, in seeking to make domestic legislation compatible with the ECHR, UK courts have a far-reaching power of interpretation under section 3; how, if they are unable to interpret primary legislation in a manner that is compatible with the ECHR, the courts may make a declaration of incompatibility between the domestic legislation and the ECHR (at which stage it is a matter for Parliament to decide whether to change the legislation); and also how the Act applies to public authorities under the section 6. There is also reference to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Taken as a whole the chapter provides an assessment of the far-reaching impact of the Human Rights Act on domestic law and judicial review in particular.