Human rights

iStock_000012523590XSmall-300x208The most commonly relied upon articles from the Human Rights Act in current English legal proceedings tend to be :-

Article 6 – Right to a fair trial

This is an absolute right and applies to both civil and criminal legal proceedings. It includes such aspects as a right to have a case dealt within a reasonable period of time, by an independent and impartial tribunal and not to suffer a substantial disadvantage compared to the other party. This does not necessarily mean fairness in terms of overall resources but a good example would be if a party needs an interpreter just to understand what is happening. The right has also been found to incorporate a right to be advised of the reasons for any decision and cases brought under this article commonly involve issues surrounding appeals from original decisions.

Article 8 – Right to respect for private life, family life and the home

A common example of the application of this right relates to issues of data protection and there have been some very high profile recent issues involving this right, in particular the notorious News of the World phone hacking case. The family life right has come into cases involving, amongst other things pollution or anti-social behaviour. Article 8 is known as a qualified and not absolute right and consequently there are instances when the right is effectively legally overruled by more important social issues or national issues. This right has also been argued in relation to recent social housing cases.

Article 14: Not to suffer discrimination

There are obvious connotations and uses of this right and it dovetails with many rights now enshrined in employment law and the Equality Act. In terms of the breadth of application, it relates to :-

sexual orientation
political views
personal characteristics generally


As with article 8, Article 14 is a qualified right, it can be overruled for reasons where a defendant can justify any breach with good reason and infringement is also seen as proportionate action. This comes from case law as there are no specific defences stated in the Human Rights Act.