Jersey's Human Rights Law came into force on 10 December 2006, International Human Rights Day, the date on which the United Nations celebrates, educates and reflects on the principles that form the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
*The Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000 has been amended by Article 66 of the Terrorism (Jersey) Law 2002. The revised provisions on detention of persons suspected of terrorism offences introduced by the 2002 Law have made it unnecessary to maintain the derogation contained in Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Law.
Download Human Rights (Jersey) Law brief guidance (size 20kb)
Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000 on Jersey Law website*
Human rights in Jersey
The immediate aim of the States in introducing the human rights law was to allow cases concerning the rights given under the European Convention on Human Rights thereafter to be decided in the Jersey courts.
The hope is that the law will help to create a society in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals are properly balanced, and in which an awareness of the convention rights permeates the States and our legal system at all levels.
How can I use the law to enforce my human rights?
If you think that a public authority has breached your convention rights, you can:
- take the authority to court for breaching your rights, or
- rely on the convention rights in the course of any other proceedings involving a public authority, eg judicial review or criminal trial
In order to take the authority to court for beaching your rights, you have to bring proceedings within a year of the act complained of. However, the court can allow you to bring proceedings after a longer period if it thinks this is fair having considered all the circumstances. This is not necessarily straightforward and you should consider seeking advice from a lawyer or the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Acts before the Human Rights Law came into force
Generally, the Human Rights Law will not apply to acts that you think breached those rights but which happened before the law came into force. You will only be able to rely on your rights for previous acts in proceedings that a public authority brings against you after the law comes into force, for example if you are being prosecuted for a criminal offence.
Awards made under the Human Rights Law
It depends upon the nature of the proceedings. If the court finds that a public authority has breached your convention rights, it can award whatever remedy is open to it, and seems just and appropriate. This could include damages.
Bringing a case under the human rights law
Proceedings under the human rights law can only be brought by victims of a breach of the convention rights by a public authority. This mirrors the test of standing for bringing proceedings against the UK government at Strasbourg.
Interest groups will not be able to bring actions directly unless they meet the so called victim test. However, they will be able to assist those who can bring actions.
What is a public authority?
Article 7 of the Law defines 'public authority' as: A court or tribunal; or any person certain of whose functions are functions of a public nature. However, it excludes the States Assembly (save in two instances) or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in the States Assembly. The law gives no express definition of 'public authority' but it includes:
- States departments
- parish authorities
- police, prison and immigration officers
- courts and tribunals
- non-departmental public bodies
- any person exercising a public function
Can I take a case to Strasbourg?
Yes, but the European Court of Human rights will want to know that you have exhausted all available remedies in the Jersey courts first, including the legal routes opened up by the human rights law. Some of these questions are complicated and you should consider seeking advice from a lawyer or the Citizens Advice Bureau.