Note:

These pages contain material published before October 2003 by the Department of Courts and the previous Ministry of Justice.

 

The Human Rights Act 1993 (Overview)

The structure of the Human Rights Act

Following amendment in 2001, the five main parts of the Human Rights Act are:

  • Part I: sets out the functions of the Human Rights Commission;
  • Part 1A: sets out the Bill of Rights Act non-discrimination standard; it deals with discrimination by those in the public sector, except in relation to employment, sexual harassment, racial disharmony, racial harassment, and victimisation;
  • Part II: sets out the Human Rights Act non-discrimination standard; it deals with discrimination by those in the private sector, and those in the public sector in relation to employment, sexual harassment, racial disharmony, racial harassment, and victimisation; it sets out the prohibited grounds of discrimination (these are reproduced in full in Appendix 2), the areas of life in which such discrimination is prohibited, and various exceptions where discrimination is lawful;
  • Part III: deals with complaints processes through the Human Rights Commission and remedies;
  • Part IV: which establishes a Human Rights Review Tribunal and provides for its functions and powers.

Part 1A: The incorporation of the Bill of Rights Act non-discrimination standard into the Human Rights Act 

Part 1A of the Human Rights Act will apply to the majority of public sector activity. Part 1A provides that where a complaint of discrimination is made against a person or agency in the public sector, the complaint will generally be upheld if the discrimination is inconsistent with the right to freedom from discrimination in section 19, and cannot be justified in terms of section 5 of the Bill of Rights Act. This Bill of Rights Act non-discrimination standard, which has applied to all public sector activity since 1990, is discussed on pages 13 to 27 of these guidelines. 

Part II: Employment, Racial Disharmony, Sexual and Racial Harassment, and Victimisation

Part 1A does not apply to the public sector in respect of discrimination in employment matters, racial disharmony, sexual harassment, racial harassment and victimisation. This recognises that in these (mostly employment-related) situations, covered by Part II of the Human Rights Act, there should be no difference between the legal obligations imposed on the private and public sectors. This Human Rights Act non-discrimination standard is discussed on pages 28 to 34 of these guidelines.