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Human rights update

Richard Gordon QC and Tim Ward weigh up Strasbourg v domestic law and look at companies' right to privacy

8 November 2002

Strasbourg and the House of Lords – the issue of supremacy Section 2 of the Human Rights Act requires a court to ‘take account of’ the Strasbourg jurisprudence in determining a question which arises in connection with a Convention right. Thus, unlike the case law of the European Court of Justice, the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) are not binding on UK courts. A recent judgment of the House of Lords has, once again, raised a question as to which court has the final word. The issue first arose in a series of cases concerning the extent of liability of local authorities in negligence. In X (Minors) v Bedfordshire CC [1995] 2 AC 633 the House of Lords ruled that local authorities enjoyed extensive immunities from actions in negligence. Subsequently, in Osman v UK [2000] 29 EHRR 245, the ECtHR ruled that what it construed to be an immunity from actions in negligence against the police violated the right of access to a court protected by Art 6(1). The j...

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