Significance of Section 3 and 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998

1312 WordsFeb 26, 20185 Pages
The power to strike down Acts of Parliament is defined as the power to declare legislation invalid because it is unconstitutional. This paper will critically assess sections 3 and 4 of the HRA 1998 by defining them, reviewing case law surrounding their use, and by evaluating the powers that they give to the judiciary. By doing so, it will demonstrate that section 3 gives judges powers that are not significantly different from the power to strike down Acts of Parliament, whereas section 4 does not. Definitions Section 3 of the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998 provides that primary and subordinate legislation “must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with Convention rights”. This provides judges the power to interpret and amend legislation so far as it is possible so that it is in accordance with Convention rights. There is no need for ambiguity in wording of the act to use section 3 and it does not affect the validity of the Act notwithstanding the Act being incompatible with Convention rights. There are limits on judges’ ability to use section 3 which restrict cases in which it can be used. First, section 3 cannot go against the grain of the fundamental purpose of the legislation in question. Second, judges can only go “so far as possible” when interpreting legislation. The means that judges are restrained by the plain words of the provision and cannot stray from it’s meaning so far as to completely amend it. Next, section 4 of the HRA 1998 provides that
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