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Hatton and Others v. UK (application No. 36022/97)

7 July 2003


Hatton alleged that the Government’s policy on night flights at Heathrow Airport, which gave her persistent sleeping problems, constituted a violation of her private life (Art 8).


No violation was found. The Court decided that there was no interference to be justified and that the authorities had acted within their margin of appreciation, striking a “fair balance between the right of the individuals affected by those regulations to respect for their private life and home and the conflicting interests of others and of the community as a whole” (§ 129).

Key jurisprudence

  • “It is logical that there be an inverse relationship between the importance of the right to privacy in question on the one hand and the permissible intensity of the State’s interference on the other hand.” (§ 10)
  • While sexual intimacy embodies the innermost concentric circle of private life, “it is not logical to infer from this that the proportionality doctrine of inverse relationship between the importance of the right to privacy and the permissible interference should be limited to sexual intimacy.” (§ 10)
  • “Other aspects of privacy, such as health, may be just as “intimate”, albeit much more vital.” (§ 10)


Despite no violation being found, the joint dissenting opinion attempts to widen the scope of the phrase “most intimate aspect of human life”. This, in the very least, paves the way for further arguments based upon an intimate aspect of human life.

Compulsory medical intervention, even if it is of minor importance, constitutes an interference with the right to respect for private life, as “a person’s body concerns the most intimate aspect of private life” (Y.F. v. Turkey, (24209/94) § 33)

Related cases

  • Dudgeon