The Human Rights Act

The Human Rights Act (the Act), together with the Scotland Act, protects the rights that are contained in the European Convention on Human Rights in Scotland’s own laws.

The Act means that people can raise human rights issues in Scottish courts. It also places a duty on public bodies to comply with human rights in everything they do.

Watch our video explainer on what the Human Rights Act means in Scotland. 

Defending the Human Rights Act

In June 2023 the UK Government announced in the House of Commons that it would not proceed with plans to repeal the Human rights Act and replace it with a new Bill of Rights.

This followed a long period of campaigning by human rights defenders, civil society and others, including the Commission, to defend the Act.

In June 2022, the UK Government had published a Bill of Rights which laid out plans to repeal the Human Rights Act. The Commission believed the provisions in the Bill would water down human rights protections, make access to justice more difficult and put the UK in breach of its international obligations. We said that it should be of real concern for all who value human rights and the rule of law. Read our full statement on the Bill of Rights. 

The Commission responded to the UK Government’s consultation on its proposals to replace the Human Rights Act with a new Bill of Rights, detailing extensive concerns about the regressive impact of the changes planned. 

Read more in this blog from Barbara Bolton, the Commission's Head of Legal and Policy originally published in the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland. 

If passed, these proposals would be deeply regressive, undermining 20 years of human rights law and policy development across the UK, making it harder for people to enforce their rights, and putting the UK in breach of its international law obligations. This should be of grave concern to us all.

Barbara Bolton
Head of Legal and Policy


The Commission's work on Defending the Human Rights Act