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Human Rights Act 1998


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10 January 2010

The Human Rights Act 1998 came into force on 2nd October 2000 and implemented the European Convention on Human Rights which aimed to protect rights to life and liberty.

The Act does not apply to criminal proceedings, so cannot assist a reporter if he or she wants to challenge restrictions imposed by a court.

The interesting thing about the Act and the Convention behind it is the concept of judge made law. The judiciary can use the Act to exercise what is fundamentally there own take (known as judicial discretion) on the balancing of the rights enshrined therein, arguably to a much larger extent than previously. The law of England and Wales is part legislation and part judge-made, particularly civil litigation ('tort' law primarily is non-legislated). The Act could be seen to add judicial discretion to most legal matters.

The two most pertinent Articles to media law in the Act are Article 8 and Article 10, and it is the balancing act between these two that exercises the courts most, and which bring to the area a great deal of uncertainty, particularly for journalists.

It is in this balancing that some argue the judiciary is failing in its alleged mission to formulate a new area of law. Judicial discretion in the courts of England and Wales has a noble heritage, notably Denning, al-time student favourite.

Tim Mount is a trainee solicitor, contactable at

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-02-20 16:38:20 in Legal Articles

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