The Human Rights Act and disabled people

This section looks at how the Human Rights Act 1998 can be relevant to disabled people seeking assistance from a local authority.

This content applies to Scotland

Human Rights Act and disabled people

The implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998 places public authorities under a duty to ensure that they comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. The following articles may be relevant and useful to disabled people:

  • The right to life (Article 2): this could be used as a challenge to resource-based decisions about services that are to be provided.

  • The prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 3): this is likely to have an impact on the rights of disabled people in residential homes.

  • The right to liberty (Article 5): this may be used as a challenge to problems such as a failure by social services to provide domiciliary care, thus forcing the disabled person to go into residential care.

  • The right to respect for private and family life (Article 8). [1]

  • Non-discriminatory practice in the enjoyment of convention rights (Article 14).

In one case in England, [2] the High Court found that a local authority's failure to provide community care services to a severely disabled woman and her family, despite accepting a duty to do so, was a breach of the right to family life. [3] The court ordered the authority to provide suitable housing and awarded damages on the basis that the protracted delay in doing so had forced the applicant and her family to live in conditions that made any meaningful private or family life virtually impossible. However, it should be noted that the circumstances in this case were very extreme. The claimant and her family were forced to live in conditions that made it impossible for the claimant to manage her own bodily functions and meant that privacy and/or social activity were out of the question.

Last updated: 11 December 2019


  • [1]

    But note Kay and others v Lambeth LBC, Price and others v Leeds CC [2006] UKHL 10

  • [2]

    R (on the application of Bernard) v Enfield LBC [2002] EWHC 2282 (Admin)

  • [3]

    Article 8, European Convention on Human Rights