17 years ago, the Human Rights Act became law in the UK and we think that's worth celebrating!

To mark the occasion, over 17 days we are 'unwrapping' the Human Rights Act - with information & stories, we'll be sharing how the Act works and how it makes a difference. Many of the stories include examples taken from BIHR's work with people, community groups and public services.

Article 1, Protocol 1: Right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions

The Human Rights Act protects the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions. 

The Human Rights Act protects our right to enjoy possessions without interference, deprivation or control of those possessions. This right is 'non-absolute' and for there to be an interference there has to be a law that allows it and it has to be in the public interest and the response has to be proportionate. 

Possessions in this right include things like land, houses and objects you own. It also protects other things like shares, licences, leases, patents, money, pensions and certain types of welfare benefits.

In real life: Right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions

Two carers and a grandmother successfully challenged the Secretary for Work and Pensions because of policy that introduced a benefit cap to people providing over 35 hours of care to a member of their family. All the people had reductions in their benefit allowance despite providing full time care. The advice from the Department of Work and Pensions for people finding themselves in this situation is to make up the shortfall by living within their means, getting a job or applying for discretionary housing payments. However, the court did not accept that these options were fair or realistic in supporting carers to balance their full time caring role with the growing financial burden of doing so.

The High Court found that the policy was interfering with the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions because the benefit allowance that should have been afforded the appellants is considered their possession that was being disproportionately interfered with. The court also held that there was a breach of the right to non-discrimination because carers were being treated differently without reasonable justification. 

(Hurley and others v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2015] EWHC 3382 (Admin))