This article was originally published in Judicial Review in March 2002.
“The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) incorporates European Convention jurisprudence indirectly, making it unlawful for a “public authority” to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right (s.6).
The meaning of “public authority” within that context is not exhaustively defined. The Act provides a definition of sorts in s. 6(3), which “includes” a court or tribunal, and also “any person certain of whose functions are functions of a public nature”, but does not include either House of Parliament or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in Parliament (other than the House of Lords in its judicial capacity). This group will not be liable for acts of a private nature (s.6(5)). The latter category has been described as constituting “functional” or “hybrid” public authorities…”