The Human Rights Act contains a list of 16 rights (called ‘Articles’). You can find out about some of these rights here.

The rights in the Human Rights Act are taken from the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK helped write the Convention.

Before we had the Human Rights Act in the UK, you had to go to the European Court of Human Rights (in France) to get help. This is far away, and it can take years to get your case heard.

The Human Rights Act brought these rights closer to home.


How does the Human Rights Act work?

These are 3 things you need know about how the Human Rights Act works:

  • 1. The legal duty
    The Human Rights Act puts a legal duty on public authorities to respect and protect human rights across their actions, decisions, policies, services, etc.
  • 2. All other laws should respect your human rights, as far as possible.
    For example, if you are worried about how a part of the Mental Health Act is affecting your human rights, you can ask a court to look at this.
  • 3. You can ask your local court or tribunal to help with your rights.
    If 1 and 2 are not complied with people can now bring legal cases in the UK courts. But you don’t need a lawyer to use the Human Rights Act. You can raise any human rights issues directly with public authorities.

What does this legal duty mean for public services?

Under the Human Rights Act public services (and the officials who work for them) by law must protect, respect and fulfil human rights in every service they provide, in every action and decision, every day.

This means that public services (and the officials who work for them) must:

  • Respect your rights:
    They must not restrict them or try to breach them. This can only happen in some limited situations.
  • Protect your rights:
    They must step in and take positive action to protect people from harm, usually called safeguarding.
  • Fulfill your rights:
    They must investigate when things have gone wrong, (and try to stop it from happening again).

What does this legal duty mean for my everyday life?

This duty is really important in everyday situations because if you are treated badly by services you can:

  • Speak up because you have human rights which should be respected and protected.
  • Talk to your services about whether they are meeting their legal duty to respect and protect your human rights.
  • Work with services to find better solutions without the need to go to court or use a lawyer.