Human Rights Law Cases
The Human Rights cases below are here to help you write your own case summaries of as research for your law essay or dissertation:
Succession by a homosexual partner to a statutory tenancy under the Rent Act 1977
From 1983, the defendant Juan Godin-Mendoza (JGM) and his homosexual partner Hugh Wallwyn-James (HWJ) shared a flat which was subject to a statutory tenancy granted upon HWJ under the Rent Act 1977 (RA). On HWJ’s death in 2001, the landlord, Ahmad Ghaidan brought proceedings against JGM in the County Court, claiming possession of the flat. The judge ruled that JGM had not succeeded HWJ in a statutory tenancy as he was not the spouse of the deceased, because the term spouse did not apply to a same-sex couple. JGM was entitled to an assured tenancy as ‘family’ of the deceased.
The meaning of spouse under Schedule 1, para 2 of the 1977 Act is a person living with the original tenant as his or her wife or husband, regardless of marriage. The spouse of the deceased could succeed in a statutory tenancy if living in the property with the deceased previous to his death. The defendant, JGM claimed that the meaning of spouse in the 1977 Act applied to a homosexual couple and that interpreting the 1977 Act to apply only to heterosexual couples was discriminatory within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998, Schedule 1, Part I, Articles 8 and 14.
Para 2(2) of the RA 1977 had to be construed as including persons in a same-sex relationship. The words ‘as his or her wife of husband’ were to be read to mean ‘as if they were his or her wife or husband’ in order to comply with Article 8, and protect the degree of security of tenure enjoyed by a person. Under Article 14 ECHR, discrimination because of sexual orientation was impermissible. It was the positive obligation of the state to promote the values protected by Article 8 affecting the home by bringing national legislation within its ambit.
Austin v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  UKHL 5
Human Rights: Deprivation of Liberty
During anti-capitalist demonstrations in London on May 1 2001, the police cordoned in up to three thousand demonstrators in Oxford Circus for up to 7 hours.
The House of Lords held that measures of crowd control undertaken in the interests of the community will fall outside of Article 5 right to liberty as long as they are not arbitrary, are resorted to in good faith, and are proportionate and enforced for no longer than necessary. It was held that the use of the cordon, which had resulted in people being held in one place without food, water or shelter, was not a deprivation of liberty. There was no breach of Article 5.
A v United Kingdom (Application No. 3455/05) ECtHR Judgment of February 19 2009
Human Rights: Liberty and security
Derrogation from right to liberty, whether justified on grounds of national security. Right of D to know reason for arrest and any charge against him.
In the UK, non-national terrorist suspects may be detained indefinitely without charge. This case considered 11 applicants subject to detention on the grounds that they were suspected terrorists. The UK had issued a derogation order, stating that a breach of Art 5 right to liberty was necessary to protect national security. The suspects were not permitted to hear all the evidence against them, because of national security fears, and so Special Advocates were appointed.
It was held by the European Court of Human Rights that some of the applicants had suffered breaches of Article 5(1) and 5(2). The UK had discriminated unjustifiably between national and non-national terror suspects, and that the measures adopted were disproportionate. The Special Advocate procedure was justified, but that the suspect must be given specific details sufficient to mount a defence.
S and Marper v United Kingdom (Application Nos 30562/04 & 30566/04) ECtHR Judgment of December 4 2008
Human Rights: Private life
Retention of DNA from individuals not convicted of an offence.
In 2001 the law in the UK was changed to allow the retention of fingerprints, cellular samples and DNA profiles of individuals who have not been convicted of a crime or even charged with an offence. The statutory basis of the system is contained in section 64(1A) of PACE 1984.
S was arrested in January 2001, aged 11, and charged with attempted robbery. His fingerprints and DNA were taken. He was then acquitted in June 2001. Marper was arrested in March 2001, aged 38, and charged with harassment. His fingerprints and DNA samples were taken but charges were not pressed and the case was discontinued.
Both applicants requested that their fingerprints and DNA samples be destroyed. The police refused, indicating that the Chief Constable had a policy of retaining samples in all cases. The applicants contended that retention was incompatible with their right to respect for private life under Art 8.
The Grand Chamber of the ECtHR held that the UK’s blanket approach to the retention of DNA from individuals not convicted of an offence was a disproportionate inference with respect for private life under Art 8.
Natunen v Finland (Application No 21022/04) ECtHR Judgment of March 31 2009
Human Rights: Fair Trial
In the UK, intercept evidence is currently inadmissible. However, there is currently a call on the Government to bring in an intercept evidence regime in order to support increased prosecutions.
In this case the applicant was suspected of drugs trafficking. Telephone intercept evidence was used in the investigation and pre-trial investigation material contained details of 21 telephone conversations. On appeal the applicant contended that other telephone conversations could have proved his innocence, and that the intercepts of these conversations had never been disclosed. The prosecution maintained that the recordings were destroyed because they were not connected to an offence, and could not have been retained without breaching the law.
It was held by the European Court of Human Rights that Article 6(3)(b), which guarantees the accused the right to prepare his defence without restriction, had been breached. The accused had not been given an opportunity to acquaint himself with the results of the investigations. The public prosecutor’s duty to act fairly and impartially in assessing what recordings were relevant was insufficient to safeguard the applicant’s rights.
Vo V. France 40 EHRR 12
Human Rights Law: Right to life
Does right to life applies to an unborn child? Or when does right to life begin?
A woman was mistaken for another patient and was treated for another diagnose. When it was realised that she was pregnant and had a wrong operation had been performed, a therapeutic abortion was carried out on health grounds.
She failed in an action for unintentional homicide and made an application to the European Court to determine whether the unavailability of criminal remedy for destruction of foetus amounts to failure to protect by law the right to life within the meaning of Article 2 of the convention. The Court held that a foetus is not protected but failed to define ‘everyone’ whose life is protected under Article 2 of the HRA.
Kara V. UK Appl No 36528/97, 22 Oct 1998
Human Rights: Freedom of movement
Violation of freedom to personal life may be interfered with only in circumstances where it is aimed at protecting the rights of others.
A bisexual was instructed not to wear female dressing to work as this, the council viewed, not only violated the council’s code of conduct but will like bring it into disrepute. The applicant challenged his employer on the ground of violation of Article 8 and 14 of the Human Rights Act 1998. It was contended that the restriction on his dressing was an infringement on his privacy and religious believes. He claimed to belong to Native American that conventionally dresses in female outfit.
The European court acknowledged that rules on mode of dressing at work affected the applicant during work but that the interference was justifiable for the protection of the rights of others since the applicant had contact with the public and other organisation during work.
Van Droogenbroeck V. Belgium (1982) 4 EHRR 443
Human Rights: Prohibition of torture
Detaining and working while serving a prison sentence does not constitute slavery and servitude under Article 4 of the convention right.
The applicant was sentenced for theft for a period of two years imprisonment. He was also ordered to be placed under governmental disposal for a period of ten years as a result of his tendency to commit further crimes. After serving the sentence and while in recidivist in attempt to reintegrate him into the society. He appealed against his continued detention to earn money to sustain a living when released and his being placed at government disposal for 10 years as violating Article 4 of the Human Rights Act.
The European Court rejected this claims and held that the detention was not an act of servitude as only particularly serious’ form of ‘denial of freedom’ could amount to this.
R V. Shayler  1 AC 247
Human rights: Freedom of expression
This case clearly showed that the sections 1(1) and 4(1) of the Official Secrets Act, which prohibits member of the intelligence service form divulging information, is not incompatible with the Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 which guaranteed the freedom of expression.
Shayler, a secret service agent, sold information to a newspaper company. This information was matters of national security and intelligence which he came across by virtue of employment with the service. He pleaded that the disclosure was made on the ground of public interest.
The court held that the combined effect of Ss. 1 (1) and 4 (1) was that a defendant could not rely on a defence of public and national interest to disclose information protected by these sections. Furthermore, this does not amount to restriction on freedom of expression as article 10 “did not ban absolutely any disclosure. Rather it restricted disclosure unless lawful authority has been gained.”
Directorate of Public Prosecution V. Jones (Margaret) and Anor  2 AC 249
Human rights: Lawful Assembly
Taking part in a lawful assembly in public places does not amount to trespass.
The Defendant and others were part of a peaceful demonstration on a highway where there was a prohibition of trespassory assembly in force according to Section 14A of the Public Order Act 1986.
They appealed against their conviction and it was held that a public highway is a place of lawful assembly. Acts which does not involve nuisance should not be regarded as trespass and a right of peaceful assemble to lawfully use the highway can exist subject to complying with the restriction.
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UK law covers the laws and legislation of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Essays, case summaries, problem questions and dissertations here are relevant to law students from the United Kingdom and Great Britain, as well as students wishing to learn more about the UK legal system from overseas.
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