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freedom of expression


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A right set out in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act1998. In the key case Handyside v UK (1976) 1 EHRR 737, the European Court of Human Rights declared that: “Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man…it is applicable not only to `information' or `ideas' that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb…such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no `democratic society'.” Convention jurisprudence gives different weight to different kinds of expression. The most important expression – political speech – therefore is likely to be protected to a much greater extent than the least important – commercial speech. Freedom of expression is a qualified right.

Subjects: Law.


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