Public Law - Sources of UK Constitution IV - Case Law II

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 12-11-20 21:13
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  • Sources of UK Constitution IV - Case Law II
    • Judicial review of executive actions
      • Mechanism which enables courts to ensure  Government and other public bodies exercise powers which they have been granted in proper way and do not breach rule of law
      • Role played by High Court in ensuring Government and other public bodies act within powers they have been granted by Parliament
      • St Helen's Borough Council v Manchester Primary Care Trust [2008] EWCA Civ 931
        • May LJ defined function of court in judicial review proceedings as being to review decisions of statutory and other public authorities:
          • 'to see that they are lawful, rational and reached by a fair process'
      • UK doesn't have written constitution creating 'higher authority' against which individual pieces of legislation may be measured
        • Led to, along with doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy, courts in UK don't have power to review constitutionality of legislation
      • Courts do have ability to review way in which public bodies exercise powers which Parliament conferred upon them.
      • Constitutionally important because it enables courts to hold executive (ie Government) to account for its actions.
        • Prevents government acting in arbitrary, illegal or irrational manner
        • Ensures decisions are taken in fair and unbiased way.
    • Interpretation of statute
      • Judiciary make decisions of constitutional  significance when interpreting statute law
        • Particularly case with European Communities Act 1972 and Human Rights Act 1998
      • R v Secretary of State for Transport, ex p Factortame Ltd (No 1)
        • House of Lords effectively suspended operation of an Act of Parliament where Act was in conflict with EU Law
      • Thoburn v Sunderland City  Council
        • Lord Justice Laws commented:
          • suggested hierarchy of Acts of Parliament, making distinction between 'ordinary' statues' and 'constitutional' statues
    • Conclusion
      • Judiciary been able to change and shape development of constitution through:
        • development of common law
        • growth of judicial review
        • interpretation of statutes
      • Case law is 'flexible'
        • subject to doctrine of judicial precedent, judges exercise measure of discretion in deciding cases before them, and case law can reflect changing social, economic and moral standards in society.
        • If Parliament or Government takes issue with case law developing law in particular direction
          • Act of Parliament can be passed which will override any pre-existing case law
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