Does the UK need a codified constitution?

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Serife Gunal
Discuss the view that the UK does not
need a codified written constitution.
It is a common misconception that the British constitution is unwritten. Although parts of it are unwritten, it is
simply uncodified, meaning that it is written but not necessarily in one document of fundamental laws. Though
some people feel that a codified constitution would be beneficial, others argue that it would not for various
reasons.
Firstly, it would mean that the constitution is no longer flexible and although there are benefits to this, the UK
has prided itself on its flexible and organic constitution for hundreds of years. To codify it would mean the
constitution would become rigid and its inflexible nature would disallow for a relevant and up to date nature.
The US has a codified constitution whereby it has fundamental laws and is written on one document. Within it
is a law that claims that citizens have 'a right to bear arms'. Yet amidst recent shootings, there have been calls
to amend the law to prohibit such weapons. The rigidity of a codified constitution means that if plans go
ahead, it will be incredibly hard and extremely long winded to make these changes, something which may not
necessarily bode well for the UK. The UK is renowned for its ever changing legislation that adheres to the
social and economic change at the time and it is fair to say that a codified constitution would limit this, as such,
some would argue that the British constitution should not be codified.
The argument that judicial tyranny may occur, is a strong one. The judges that enforce justice in the UK are not
only unelected but notoriously unrepresentative of the majority, whereby the average age is 68 and the ethnic
origin, white. To codify the constitution would mean that the judiciary may police the constitution, resulting in
lack of legitimacy. Without the need for new regular legislation the parliament may become almost redundant
whilst the judiciary is exercising its governance of justice as it pleases. It would be fair to say that a codified
constitution would therefore end a long reign of democratic rule in the UK.
To codify the British constitution would effectively abolish parliamentary sovereignty. Some argue that it does
not exist as it is however the codifying of the constitution would certainly ensure that it is abolished for good.
The fundamental laws would stand as higher laws and so any legislation that parliament tried to pass would be
deemed incompatible with the constitution. Av dicey penned a definition of parliamentary sovereignty along
the lines of 'hajj disk'. From this definition the higher laws come would come under a body that undermines
the law and therefore people disagree with the codifying of the constitution because of its negative impacts
on parliamentary sovereignty.
Moreover, the uncodified constitution has worked well for the British democracy throughout the years. The
organic and flexible nature has allowed it to adapt accordingly to modern times. For instance, with ownership
of mobile phones on the rise, the legislature were able to create an act that targeted the usage of mobile
phones in cars, made easy only by the uncodified nature of our constitution. It is commonly argued that to
improve the checks and balances of our system as we progress is far more beneficial to our democracy then
to codify the constitution.
In conclusion, the codifying of the constitution has various factors against it. Not only does it put parliamentary
sovereignty at risk, make the constitution more rigid and change what has worked for the entirety of British
history, but it also offers a chance for judicial tyranny to take place.

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