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HMRC internal manual

Specialist Investigations Operational Guidance

Case identification: surveillance: impact of the European Convention on Human Rights

The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) came into effect on 2 October 2000. It incorporates most of the rights afforded by the European Convention on Human Rights into UK Law and gives those who believe their rights have been infringed recourse to the UK courts. Article 8(1) of the Convention gives everybody the right to respect for their private and family lives, their home and their correspondence. However Article 8(2) specifically envisages that there will be some circumstances when it is necessary to interfere with a person’s rights of privacy and sets out the conditions that must apply before such interference is lawful.

In order to be lawful, intrusion into a person’s private life must be in accordance with the Law and necessary in a democratic society in pursuit of a legitimate aim. For HMRC, this means that any intrusive action must be in accordance with the Law and necessary for one or more of the following:

  • for the purpose of assessing or collecting any tax, duty, levy or other imposition, contribution or charge payable to a government department
  • in the interests of the economic well being of the country
  • for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime or preventing disorder.

Detailed information on the Human Rights Act is available by using the link.