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What can I do if I think my rights have been breached?

If you think a public authority has breached your Convention rights (or that it is going to), you can take court proceedings against them. You have to show that you have been affected by what the public authority has done or is going to do.

You can apply for a procedure called a 'judicial review' if:

  • you want to challenge a decision made by a public authority; or
  • you want the court to order a public authority to do something or stop doing something.

Under judicial review, a judge will look at your case and decide if the public authority has acted illegally. You have to start proceedings quickly, and at the latest within three months of the authority's decision or action you are challenging. It is important to consult a lawyer quickly and discuss the possibility of judicial review if you think that there has been a breach of your rights, because judicial review can be an effective way of challenging a decision or action, and you are more likely to get public funding (legal aid) for it than for a damages claim on its own.

If you just want compensation because your Convention rights have been breached, you can bring a claim for damages. You have to bring the case within a year of your rights being breached.

A court can award you compensation if it finds that your Convention rights have been breached. But the court may choose not to award you compensation if it decides that simply finding that your rights were breached is enough. The compensation that people have received for breaches of their Convention rights has been quite low.

You may also be able to rely on your Convention rights if you are defending yourself in court. This will happen most often in criminal cases, but it may also happen, for example, if you are:

  • a council tenant and the council is trying to evict you; or
  • an immigrant or asylum seeker facing deportation.

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