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Human Rights Act 1998

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.


Human rights are basic rights and freedoms which we all have. They cannot be taken away, although they can be restricted in certain circumstances.

In the UK, our human rights are protected by law. This law is called the Human Rights Act 1998.

Quick facts

  • The Human Rights Act gives you legal protection of your human rights, such as your right to life, or your right to a fair trial.
  • There are 16 rights in total, and each one is referred to as a separate article, for example, Article 2: Right to life.
  • You are protected under the Human Rights Act if you live in the UK. This includes if you are a foreign national, detained in hospital or in prison.
  • All public authorities or bodies exercising public functions need to follow the Human Rights Act. However, individual and private companies do not.
  • If your human rights haven't been respected, you should first try to resolve it informally, then use a formal complaints procedure, and if that fails you can take legal action by going to court. You should always get legal advice before going to court.
  • If a court agrees that your human rights have been breached, it can award you compensation, make a declaration that your rights have been breached, overturn decisions made by a public authority or order them to do something.

This information was published in January 2020. 

This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published. 

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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