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Forging ahead

In the absence of clear direction from Strasbourg, UK courts are setting down their own guidelines on damages claims for breaches of the ECHR. Mark Mullins reports

14 March 2003

The domestic courts’ approach to damages claims under the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) was much debated before the Act came into force. Court decisions have been surprisingly slow to appear, but in two recent cases, R (Bernard) v Enfield LBC [2002] EWHC 2282 (Admin) and R (KB) v (1) The Mental Health Review Tribunal (2) SoS for Health [2003] EWHC 192 (Admin), the Administrative Court has at last begun to develop guidelines on damages under the HRA. Damages under the HRA 1998 The 1998 Act requires domestic courts to consider the principles applied by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in damages claims and its case law. Practitioners will find many ECtHR decisions on damages, but deriving a coherent set of principles from them is all but impossible. For example, in many cases the ECtHR awards a sum for non-pecuniary loss on an ‘equitable’ basis without any attempt to explain its decision. In other cases it will refuse to make such an award on the basis ...

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