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7 The Human Rights Act
3. How does the Human Rights Act work?
Not all the rights in the Convention and its protocols have become part of British law. In particular, Articles 1 and 13 are not included in the Human Rights Act. The rights that have been made part of British law are called the Convention rights. Some of the rights that have been left out may be added later. The Convention rights are very broad, and the Act affects many areas of the law. The way they are interpreted will continue to develop over time.
The courts in the UK have to look at existing laws and see how they fit in with the Convention rights. If they don't fit with Convention rights, the laws should be made to fit where possible. Public authorities, such as the police, local councils and the Benefits Agency have to follow the Act. Some organisations are public authorities at some times, but not others. For example, a security company is a public authority when it is working for the Prison Service, but not when it is doing private security work.
Sometimes the rights of different people clash, and the courts will have to find a balance between these rights. For example, an animal rights protester may use the rights to freedom of expression (Article 10) and freedom of assembly (Article 11) to argue that they should be allowed to protest outside the house of a scientist who does animal experiments. The scientist may use the right to respect for their home (Article 8) to try to stop the protest.
This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Liberty.
Leaflet version: July 2016
Last updated on 6 October 2016