F852 Government and Politics - The Rule of Law

A brief overview of the rule of law - part of the Constitution for those studying AS Government and Politics F852

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What is the rule of law?

  • A V Dicey wrote 'An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution' in 1884, very helpful read, he stated:
  • 2 key principles of the UK constitution
  • No punishment without breach of law
  • Everyone subject to same law
  • Rights stem from judgements of independent judiciary (not executive).
  • Moyra Grant wrote 'The Rule of Law - Theory and Practise' in 1994. She stated:
  • Everyone is subject to the same laws
  • Laws should be "just"
  • Laws should be unanbiguous
  • Innocent until proven guilty
  • Independent judiciary.
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What is the rule of law? (Continued)

  • Legal action limited rich and powerful; MP's immune from slander; monarch above law
  • Unjust laws, e.g. poll tax
  • Judges interpretations of law can differ
  • 1994 Criminal Justice Act (limited the right to remain silent); prejudicial media coverage
  • Judges can be members of executive and legislature.
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Is the British government an elective dictatorship

  • Origin of phrase - Lord Hailsham (1976)
  • Government formed from largest single party in House of Commons
  • Government bills nearly always passed
  • Fewer opportunities to hold executive to account
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