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  • Cited by 3
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: November 2011

2 - Mapping horizontal effect


There is a wide variety of possible models of horizontal effect of Convention rights following the enactment of the HRA. This diversity stems, in part, from a lack of clear legislative guidance. The primary, although by no means the sole, source of horizontal effect is found in sections 6(1) and 6(3)(a) of the HRA. Section 6(1) provides that: ‘It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right’. Section 6(3)(a) states: ‘In this section public authority includes a court or tribunal’.

These two sections render it unlawful for courts and tribunals to act in a way that is incompatible with Convention rights. This would appear to include situations when courts perform their adjudicative function, in both public and private law. As such, it is unlawful for courts to act contrary to Convention rights when deciding cases between two private individuals. The creation of horizontal effect in this manner is also supported by statements from the Lord Chancellor and from Jack Straw MP when discussing the Human Rights Bill during its progress through both Houses of Parliament.

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