Question Scott Law

Effect of the UK repealing the Human Right Act?

Constitutional Law: What would be the effect of the UK repealing the Human Right Act 1998?

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Answer Expert #27065

The Conservative government proposes to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and replace it with a ‘British Bill of Rights’. The Human Rights Act 1998 implements the European Convention of Human Rights into UK law (as under the UK system, treaties do not become part of UK law until they are enshrined in an Act of Parliament). The first thing to note is that repealing the Human Rights Act 1998 and not replacing it would place the UK in breach of its obligations under the ECHR, as Article 1 of the Convention obliges States to ensure that the rights provided by the Convention are secured in national law. This would mean that if UK citizens felt that UK law infringed their human rights, they would still be entitled to bring a case before the European Court of Human Rights, entitling them to damages and other remedies if they won. This sort of case would likely arise more often if the Human Rights Act were repealed, as the courts would lose their power to strain the language of UK legislation in order to ensure compliance with the convention. Essentially then, in order to avoid putting the UK at risk of many adverse ECHR judgements, the UK would either have to leave the Convention, or provide for legislation that provided alternative protection for the rights provided for under the Convention. The up-shot of this would be that not much would change, albeit claimants might find enforcing their human rights to be more difficult.


Table of Legislation
European Convention on Human Rights
Human Rights Act 1998
McFayden S, ‘Nicola Sturgeon says she will BLOCK repeal of Human Rights Act for whole of UK’, (Express, 27 September 2016), accessed 22 October 2016