The Human Rights Act 1998 was implemented in October of 2000. Since then legal provision and any decision made in respect of an individual’s entitlement to enter or remain in the United Kingdom has had to be compatible with the requirements of each of the rights set out in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). Similarly immigration law which predated the Human Rights Act has been placed under a legal microscope to ensure that it is human rights compliant.
Most importantly anyone whose application for permission to enter or to remain in the UK is refused has been able, since the Human Rights Act was implemented, to appeal against the decision refusing his or her application on the basis that the decision breaches his or her human rights. This has led to substantial body of case law from the senior courts in the United Kingdom.
The basis of all of this law are judgments of the European Court of Human Rights - but as the principles in those judgments are examined and re-examined by the UK Courts the law changes dramatically each year.
The law changes and develops with its greatest frequency in respect of Article 8 of the ECHR, which protects an individual's right to respect for his or her family and private life. The concept of private life is wide - it encompasses among many other things the right to pursue a business without undue interference from state authorities. Unlike Article 3 of the Convention, which protects individuals absolutely from torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, violations by public bodies (generally the by United Kingdom Borders Agency) of the right protected by Article 8 are permitted, but only if the violation can be shown to be both to be in the pursuit of the interests specified in Article 8 (2) and proportionate to that interest.
The frequency of the changes in the law concerning proportionality as is applied to particular kinds of immigration cases means that success or failure will often depend upon the care with which arguments are advanced, and more directly upon way in which the ever increasing body of case law is deployed by a legal representative.