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Chapter 2 - The Human Rights Act in Clinical Practice

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 June 2022

Tony Zigmond
Affiliation:
Consultant General Adult Psychiatrist, RCPsych Lead on Mental Health Law
Nick Brindle
Affiliation:
Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
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Summary

Understanding European institutions isn’t easy or, thankfully, necessary here. Our concern is with the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. This was adopted by the Council of Europe (a group of 42 states) in 1951. The United Kingdom was one of the first signatories to the Convention. Although prior to 2000, when the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) came into force, ‘public authorities’ (the term used to describe ‘the State’) and private institutions providing public functions were supposedly obliged to comply with the European Convention of Human Rights, it was difficult in practice for an aggrieved person to obtain a judgment because they needed to exhaust all domestic legal remedies before they could appeal to the European Convention of Human Rights. The Human Rights Act changed this. Parliament is required to ensure that its laws are compliant with the European Convention of Human Rights, and courts and other public authorities are required to interpret Acts in line with the Convention as far as possible. European Court of Human Rights judgments are applicable in UK courts (although not binding).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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