Question from Justice John, What are the boundaries of ‘possible’ under Section 3 of the UK Human Rights Act 1998?
Answer from AI:
Section 3 of the UK Human Rights Act 1998 is a significant provision that requires all legislation to be interpreted and given effect in a way that is compatible with the rights and freedoms recognized in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This interpretative obligation is indeed a powerful tool, but it also raises questions about its limits, particularly regarding what is ‘possible’.
Understanding the ‘Possible’ in Section 3
The term ‘possible’ in Section 3 is not explicitly defined in the Act. However, it has been interpreted by the courts to mean that the legislation should be read and given effect in a way that is compatible with the ECHR rights, so far as it is possible to do so. This means that the courts have a considerable degree of flexibility in interpreting legislation to ensure compatibility with human rights.
However, the courts cannot go beyond what is ‘possible’ under the ordinary rules of statutory interpretation. This means that the interpretation must go with the grain of the legislation and cannot be contrary to the clear intention of Parliament. If the legislation cannot be interpreted compatibly with the ECHR rights, the courts cannot change the law but can issue a declaration of incompatibility under Section 4 of the Act.
Key Factors in Determining the ‘Possible’
The courts consider several factors in determining what is ‘possible’ under Section 3, including:
- The wording of the legislation: The more specific and clear the wording, the less room there is for interpretation.
- The intention of Parliament: The courts cannot interpret legislation in a way that is contrary to the clear intention of Parliament.
- The nature of the right in question: Some rights are absolute and cannot be limited, while others can be restricted in certain circumstances.
Consulting a Legal Professional
The interpretation of Section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998 can be complex and depends on the specific circumstances of each case. If you are dealing with a legal issue that involves human rights, it is recommended that you consult with a legal professional who can provide personalized advice based on your situation.
Remember, this information is intended to provide a general understanding of the law. It is not intended to provide legal advice. Always consult with a legal professional for advice on your specific situation.