The limits to the horizontal effect of human rights in UK law

  • Uchenna Aneto

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Professor Sir William Wade argued circa 20 years ago that the core provisions of the ECHR, by virtue of the Human Rights Act 1998, would apply to private individuals in the same way and to the same exact extent they would apply to public individuals: the “full horizontal effect” of human rights. The primary question this thesis seeks to address is: “how far has UK law been able to accommodate Wade’s approach to horizontal effect?” The thesis uses the way the foundational values of human dignity and equality are being effectively or ineffectively protected in UK law as the theoretical framework for ascertaining whether Wade’s approach is being or not being comfortably accommodated.

The thesis shows that Wade’s “full horizontal effect” typology, as clarified by this writer, has been accommodated in UK law as far as possible as things stand. It maintains that if the UK courts are pressed further or persuaded with the right language and justificatory reasons that they may accommodate Wade’s approach all the more, until the law reaches its natural limits, provided the particular facts and circumstances of the case before them are right.
Date of AwardDec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorGordon Anthony (Supervisor) & Ciara Hackett (Supervisor)

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