A general guide to the Human Rights Act, with information about your human rights and what you can do if someone doesn’t respect them.
This is a qualified right, which includes:
It can be limited if it is part of the law, ‘necessary in a democratic society’ and for one of the following ‘legitimate aims’:
The ban on smoking in hospitals is not a breach of Article 8.
These are all possible breaches of Article 8: Right to a private and family life.
This is a qualified right which includes:
It can be limited where it is necessary and fair in order to protect:
These could be breaches of Article 9: Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
This is a qualified right which lets you hold opinions and express them freely:
Freedom of expression includes freedom of the media to report court proceedings. However, this freedom may be restricted for health reasons, or if it affects other human rights such as privacy or fair trial.
Proceedings involving people with mental health problems, for example at the Mental Health Tribunal, are usually in private.
Marco is due to have a hearing in the Court of Protection. These normally take place in public, so if it wants to protect Marco’s right to privacy the Court of Protection has to make an order for anonymity (an order to stop anyone using details which might identify the parties in a case, such as their name). An order of anonymity might be used if someone involved in a case is particularly vulnerable. The Court has to balance Marco’s right to privacy with the media’s right to report the information.
This is a limited right which protects you from discrimination on any of the following grounds in the enjoyment of your other human rights:
Discrimination under Article 14 is less favourable treatment by the public authority that cannot be objectively and reasonably justified. You can only use this Article if another human rights Article has been engaged.
New benefits regulations meant that people who were unable to plan a journey because of overwhelming psychological distress were entitled to a lower level of support than those who couldn’t plan a journey for other reasons. The court found that the regulations engaged rights under Article 1 Protocol 1 and that people with mental health problems were discriminated against in comparison with people with other health problems in enjoying these rights.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against because of your mental health problem, you would normally use the Equality Act 2010: see our information on discrimination.
A qualified right can only be restricted when certain general conditions are met. This means your individual rights need to be balanced with the interests of the wider community.
An example of this would be the government restricting your right to freedom of expression (Article 10) if you are encouraging racial hatred.See our full list of legal terms.
This is a special court that deals with cases relating to the Mental Health Act 1983. The Tribunal decides whether you can be discharged from your section and can sometimes make recommendations about matters such as hospital leave, transfer to another hospital, guardianship and community treatment orders (CTOs).
The court is made of a panel, which normally includes:
Where you see a reference to the Mental Health Tribunal in this guide, it means:
This is a law that applies to England and Wales which allows people to be detained in hospital (sectioned) if they have a mental health disorder and need treatment. You can only be kept in hospital if certain conditions are met.
See our pages on the Mental Health Act for more information.See our full list of legal terms.
Limited human rights can be restricted for specific reasons. Human rights can only be restricted if it is proportionate – that is, it must be for a fair and valid reason.
For example, the right to liberty (Article 5) is a limited right. A person can be detained by the state for many lawful reasons including prison, mental health grounds and other reasons listed in the Article.See our full list of legal terms.
Voluntary patients, also known as 'informal patients', are people who are staying in a psychiatric hospital but are not detained under the Mental Health Act. If you are a voluntary patient, you should be able to come and go from the hospital within reason and discharge yourself if you decide to go home.
See our pages on voluntary patients for more information.See our full list of legal terms.
This information was published in January 2020. We will revise it in 2022.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.