Rule of Law

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  • Rule of Law
    • A system of rule where the relationship between the state and the individual is governed by law, protecting the individual from arbitrary state action
      • Rule-based governance
      • Individual freedom
    • Features
      • No one is above the law
        • Always those effectively above the law e.g. monarch, foreign ambassadors and MPs
          • Some MPs tried to use parliamentary privilege as a way of ending legal proceedings taken against them over expenses
      • Equality before the law - all subject to the same justice
        • \No one can be punished without a trial
          • Not maintained in practice - e.g. terrorist suspects subject to a range of punishments without trial under measures passed in 2001 including indefinite detention
      • Law is always applied
      • Courts provide legal redress (setting right)
        • However Parliament remains sovereign - statue law supreme
          • Any legal precedent can be overturned by a simple Act of Parliament
            • Court ruled that government had acted ultra vires and did not have legal power to freeze bank assets of suspected terrorists
              • Government later passed parliamentary legislation to allow it to freeze such assets
  • General principles of the constitution (e.g. personal freedoms) result from judges' decisions rather than parliamentary statue (common/case law)
  • Key principle of UK constitution


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