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Your right to respect for private and family life

This advice applies to Wales

In the UK, human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998. The Act gives effect to the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 8 - the right to respect for your family and private life, your home and your correspondence is one the rights protected by the Human Rights Act.

Read this page to find out more about what this right means under the Human Rights Act.

What are your rights under article 8?

Article 8 protects your right to respect for private and family life, your home and correspondence.

What’s meant by private life?

Private life has a broad meaning. It means you have the right to live your life with privacy and without interference by the state. It covers things like:

  • your sexuality
  • your body
  • personal identity and how you look and dress
  • forming and maintaining relationships with other people
  • how you personal information is held and protected.

What’s meant by family life?

Family life includes the right to have and maintain family relationships. It covers your right not to be separated from your family and to maintain contact if your family is split up.

To decide if a relationship is covered by family life what matters is the closeness of the relationship rather than the legal status.

Relationships covered by family life include relationships between:

  • parents and their children, including illegitimate and adopted children
  • husband and wife as well as unmarried couples
  • siblings.

Same sex couples are protected under article 8 but their protection falls under their private life rather than family life.

What’s meant by home?

Your right to respect for your home doesn’t mean you have the right to housing but it protects the home you already have. It means public authorities mustn’t prevent you from entering or living in your home. You also have the right to enjoy your home peacefully without intrusion by a public authority.

A public authority may need to take positive steps so you can peacefully enjoy your home - for example, by reducing air craft noise or protect your home from serious pollution.

What’s meant by correspondence?

Correspondence includes things like:

  • letters
  • emails
  • fax
  • telephone.

Examples of article 8 breaches

Examples of where there could be a breach of article 8 include:

  • searches and surveillance of your home
  • separation of family members including deportation or removal of immigrants
  • care or adoption orders for children and interference with your parental rights
  • compulsory medical treatment or testing
  • if you’re treated badly in a care home - if it's severe enough this could also be a breach of article 3
  • your right to privacy at home and at work - for example, phone tapping, the monitoring of emails and internet use, CCTV
  • if your personal information is disclosed to other people without your consent
  • the imposition of unreasonable dress codes at work
  • the quality and nature of the accommodation provided by local authorities and some housing associations
  • protection from noise and pollution nuisance.

Example

Your husband is suffering from dementia and needs to live in a care home. Your local authority has offered him a place in a care home which is too far away for you and the rest of the family to visit on a regular basis. You’ve asked for a place nearer to your home, but they’ve refused. This could be a breach of your and your husband’s right to respect for family life under article 8. The local authority should consider your rights to a family life when offering your husband a placement.

You could raise the human rights issue with the local authority or make a formal complaint.

Can a public authority interfere with your article 8 rights?

Article 8 is a qualified right. This means a public authority can sometimes interfere with your right to respect for private and family life if it’s in the interest of the wider community or to protect other people’s rights.

Next steps

Other useful information

Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)

The EASS helpline can provide advice and information on human rights and discrimination issues.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

You can find useful information about discrimination on the EHRC website at

Liberty

For more information and advice on the different rights protected under the Human Rights Act go to Liberty’s Your Rights website at

British Institute of Human Rights

You can also find more information about human rights in Your human rights guides from the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) at

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