Using your rights

If you believe your human rights have been abused, what should you do about it?
The law gives you the right to take your complaint to court, but given the cost and time involved, this may not be your best option. You may be able to resolve your complaint without legal action.

But first you need to clarify whether your human rights might have been breached, and who is best to deal with it. Talk to someone else about what has happened. This could be a trusted friend, colleague or family member. There are also many organisations you can approach directly for help and advice, including the Human Rights Commission.

What the Commission can do

We can advise you on whether your complaint is covered by the Human Rights Act. If it is covered by the Act, we can help with mediation.

If mediation doesn’t work, we can advise you on your legal options. Learn more in our Enquiries, Complaints and Support section, or call our Infoline on 0800 496 877. Our service is free and confidential.

The main focus of our service is on resolving disputes involving unlawful discrimination, such as on the grounds of age, gender, ethnicity, or disability. But we can also help you with advice on broader human rights issues.

To be unlawful, the discrimination must have happened in an ‘area of public life’ set out in the Act, such as employment, education or government activity.

Who else can help

Other organisations and individuals who can help you with initial advice and clarification include your local member of parliament, and community organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureaux and Community Law Centres.

You may find after getting advice that your complaint is not actually a human rights issue but may be covered by another law. It is also possible what what happened to you may not actually have been unlawful.

What happens if you think your human rights have been breached?

If you think you have suffered a breach of your human rights, our Enquiries, Complaints and Support section has more information about how we can help, and your options.

If your complaint involves discrimination and we cannot resolve it informally, you will be entitled to ask the Office of Human Rights Proceedings to provide you with free legal representation.