Article 11

Article 11 | Right to freedom of assembly and association

Read posts on this Article

Article 11 of the Convention provides as follows:

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

(2) No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, or the police, or of the administration of the State.

The right to freedom of assembly covers peaceful protests and demonstrations. Public and private meetings are protected under this Article. These may be limited mainly on the grounds of public order. In most cases Article 11 rights are considered together with the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 and sometimes the right to a fair trial under Article 6. The Strasbourg Court will only reach a ruling under Article 11 if it considers that this is the lex specialis to be applied in a given case, in other words whether its provisions are more relevant to the facts than those in Article 10.

The right to freedom of association guarantees the capacity of all persons to join with others to attain a particular objective. Freedom of association also implies a negative right for individuals who may not be compelled to join an association: (1) Young (2) James (3) Webster v United Kingdom (1981) 4 EHRR 38 (a case concerning closed shop agreements) and Sigurdur A Sigurjonsson v Iceland (1993) 16 EHRR 462 (compulsory membership of a taxi association breached the applicant’s right to freedom of association). In addition to this in the recent case of Demir & Baykara v. Turkey (10 November 2008), the Grand Chamber held that the right to bargain collectively had become one of the essential or core elements of the right to join and form trade unions, something of a departure from the case law on this particular element of trades unionism in the seventies. States are also under a positive obligation to provide legal safeguards for employees against actions taken by private employers. In one case a private company dismissed the applicant who was a candidate for the British National Party, because he might allegedly have offended clients of ethnic origin if they discovered his leanings. The Strasbourg Court upheld his complaint under Article 11, concluding that his right to freedom of association has been infringed and violated, because the qualifying period of one year for unfair dismissal left no room for a claim that he was discriminated against on grounds of his political beliefs: Redfearn v United Kingdom, 6 November 2012.

Freedom of assembly is often in the news as demonstrations, sit-ins, staged occupations and other forms of protest are part and parcel of the public life of a liberal democracy.   We discuss the application of domestic public order laws and the extent to which they can be mitigated by Article 11 here.

Return to Incorporated Rights Index

Welcome to the UKHRB

This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.




This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.


Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption ALBA Al Qaeda animal rights anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs Court of Protection crime Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza genetics Germany Google Grenfell Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Japan Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
%d bloggers like this: