The proportionality principle explained

The principle of proportionality is at the heart of many human rights claims as any restrictions must be a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. Proportionality is often most clearly explained through the expression “don’t use a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

Consider the aim to be achieved, and whether or not it is a legitimate aim. Then consider the means which are used to achieve that aim. Are they appropriate and necessary?

When considering interference/restrictions on a right, ask:

  • Why are a person’s rights being restricted?

  • What is the problem being addressed by the restriction on someone’s rights?

  • Will the restriction lead to a reduction in the problem?

  • Does that restriction involve a blanket policy or does it allow for different cases to be treated differently

  • Does a less restrictive alternative exist?

  • Has sufficient regard been paid to the rights and interests of those affected?

  • Do safeguards exist against error or abuse?