Evaluating the impact of human rights litigation on policy and practice: a case study of the UK

Donald, Alice ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8541-3530 and Mottershaw, Elizabeth (2009) Evaluating the impact of human rights litigation on policy and practice: a case study of the UK. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 1 (3) . pp. 339-361. ISSN 1757-9619 [Article] (doi:10.1093/jhuman/hup019)


This article examines the methodological challenges in evaluating whether, and how, human rights litigation has an impact in the world outside the courtroom. Drawing on research carried out for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in Britain on the impact of selected human rights legal cases on the delivery of public services, it argues that assessing impact requires us to cast the net wide. Impact may be evident in legal judgments and the generalizable principles they enshrine. Impact may be seen in resulting changes to public policy and its implementation - including the process by which decisions are made. It may also be evident in outcomes in the form of both empirical social realities and the experience of people delivering and using the services that are implicated in the judgment. The article further argues that understanding the mechanisms by which legal judgments are (or are not) translated into changes in policy and practice enables the human rights practitioner to identify barriers to impact and make recommendations that go beyond individual cases to the very process of translating law into the realization of rights. The article situates this analysis in the context of work in other national contexts to use litigation instrumentally alongside other forms of social action to pursue human rights goals – and wider academic debates about the risk of creating an artificial disconnection between law and political action in the promotion of human rights.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Online ISSN: 1757-9627
Keywords (uncontrolled): case law; evaluation; Human Rights Act; public services; UK
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
Item ID: 11123
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Bade Ajibade
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2013 15:41
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2019 11:33
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/11123

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.