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HRA is said to be "constitutional." Which is slightly peculiar, as "constitutional" acts often precede the majority of a republic's other active statutes, and come reasonably early in the republic's foundation.

The UK is in the peculiar position of not in fact being a republic, yet still featuring many of the elements of modern democracies, and certain acts are held up to be "constitutional" (ie supreme).

1998 is reasonably late in the history of the UK, so what was the framework before that? What happened in 1998 that prompted it to be dispensed with and subplanted by HRA?

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    I doubt a direct predecessor could be defined. Off the top of my head there's PACE, Judges' Rules, Equal Pay Act 1970, Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Representation of the People Act 1918, Sex Discrimination Act 1975... The list goes on
    – user35069
    Feb 17, 2023 at 22:41

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The 1997 General Election

Incorporating the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law was Labor party policy. They won the election after 2 decades of Conservative rule and implemented their policy. Some parts of the electorate believed that the the Thatcher-Major’s Governments had not respected the Convention.

Prior to the Human Rights Act, UK courts could not strike down UK laws that conflicted with the convention or give orders implementing it if these conflicted with domestic law. A petitioner would have to exhaust all domestic remedies and then go to the European Court of Human Rights to force government compliance - a long (in both time and distance) and expensive journey.

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    Strictly speaking, UK courts still can't strike down laws, as Parliament remains supreme. However, the HRA allows courts to issue a declaration of incompatibility if an Act is incompatible with the ECHR. This declaration has no legal force, but can put pressure on the Government to change the law (which has happened a number of times). Feb 17, 2023 at 21:05
  • What is the status of the law until or if it doesn't get changed/repealed as regards enforceability? Feb 17, 2023 at 22:46
  • @SteveMelnikoff they can’t strike down Acts of Parliament but they can strike down subordinate legislation and government action
    – Dale M
    Feb 18, 2023 at 2:51
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    @Seekinganswers If it's an Act of Parliament, it remains in force as before. Feb 19, 2023 at 12:06
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This isn't a direct answer to the question, but being Canadian, I feel an intrinsic need to address the presumptions in this question which I view as overly US-centric.

Which slightly peculiar, as "constitutional" acts often precede the majority of a republic's other active statutes, and come reasonably early in the republic's foundation.

This isn't that peculiar. Countries with "late" and "major" constitutional documents include Canada (1982), Egypt (2014), France (arguably the 2008 amendments), New Zealand (1990), Norway (2014), Sweden (2011). Yes a lot of these aren't republics, but neither is the comparison country of the UK.

The UK is in the peculiar position of not in fact being a republic, yet still featuring many of the elements of modern democracies

Again, this is not too peculiar. Reasonably democratic non-republics include: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden.

certain acts are held up to be "constitutional" (ie supreme).

The "ie supreme" parenthetical can be misleading. Constitutional documents are not necessarily supreme in the sense of automatically overriding other laws or requiring some sort of super-majority to amend or repeal (both true in the US, neither true in the UK). Admittedly, of my issues with the presumptions in this question, this one is more often correct than the others I pointed out, but other examples I'm aware of are: the Netherlands, New Zealand, and to an extent Switzerland (in terms of not automatically overriding other laws).

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