Sources of the UK Constitution

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  • The Constitution
    • Rulebook
      • The Cabinet Manual 2011
        • A guide for those working in Government, not intended to be legally binding
        • House of Lords Constitution Committee
          • Limited Value and relevance, not the first step towards a written constitution
        • House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee
          • Should not be construed as the start of a written constitution
    • Statute Book
      • Acts of Parliament which have received royal assent
      • Constitutional Statutes: important rules that regulate relations between government and people
        • Magna Carta 1297, Bill of Rights 1688
        • Question of judgement as to whether Acts are constitutional
      • Does not provide a complete set of rules, only those enacted by Parliament
    • Judicial Decisions
      • Law Reports, particularly Supreme Court
      • Statutory Interpretation
        • Seeking to give effect to the intention of Parliament by definitive rulings
        • Principle of Legality: given effect in way compatible with convention rights
      • Common Law
        • No constitutional court, rules made through precedent, longer judgments, obiter statements
        • Added to rulebook through tort law
          • Entick v Carrington - officials have no power unless authorised
        • Judicial Review
          • Question legality of decisions by public bodies
    • Conventions
      • Rules of practice not binding in law
      • Distinguishing
        • What are the precedents? Did the actors believe they were bound? Is there a good reason for the rule?
          • Distinguish from useless practices
      • Enforcement
        • Impeachment, public opinion, breach of law
          • Breach of convention does not always breach law - conduct of commons
    • Concordats
      • Agreements to create a convention in light of constitutional reform
      • Political - not intended to be binding
    • European Union Law
      • Acts of Parliament no longer highest laws - Costa v ENEL + Factortame
    • International Law
      • Customary
        • State practice and opinio juris
        • Rule endured over time and consistent and accepted
          • May be relied on in UK courts
          • Trendtex: rules change with the time, mondern manifestation of an old rule
      • Treaties
        • Agreement under international law
        • Monist systems - self executing
        • Dualist - incorporation
          • Act of Parliament - drafting techniques - literal interpretation

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