- Characteristics of constitutions
- Sources of the UK constitution
- Principles of the UK constitution
- Constitutional reform
Definition: Comprises the laws, rules and practices by which a state is governed. It defines the relationship between the state and the individual to ensure no abuse of power.
- To empower states. Establish authority.
- Establish values, ideals and goals.
- Provides government with stability by allocating duties, powers and functions.
- Legitimise regimes.
- Protect freedoms. Prevents the government from enroaching on the individuals freedom.
Characteristics of constitutions
Uncodified constitution - One in which the laws, rules and principles on how a state is to be governed are not gathered in a single document. Instead they are found in a variety of sources, some written (e.g. statute law) and some unwritten (e.g. conventions). Only UK, Israel and New Zealand have an uncodified constitution.
Features of an uncodified constitution:
- Not authoritative - constitutional law has equal staus with staute law e.g. UK constitution is very easy to change
- Not entrenched (flexible) - it can be changed trough the normal process for enacting statute law e.g. UK parliamentary sovereignty in which parliament can make, break and change any law they wish including constitutional law
- Not judiciable - judicial review is limited; there is no single authoritative document that senior judges can use to determine if an action is unconstitutional.
EASY MISTAKE TO MAKE:
An uncodified constitution can still be rigid e.g. in the UK, the principles of sovereignty, constitutional monarchy and royal prerogative have existed for centuries
Sources of the UK constitution
- Statute law
- Common law
- Membership of international organisations
- Works of authority
Laws created by parliament. Supreme form of law. Overule conventions. Most important source of rules and principles on the constitution because parliament is the sovereign body.
- The Great Reform Act (1832) - extended voting rights
- The Scotland Act (1998) - created a Scottish Parliament
- The Human Rights Act (1998) - enshrined key rights in UK law
- The Fixed-term Parliament Act (2011) - established fixed-term elections for Westminster
Laws derived from decisions in court cases and from general customs. Applied by UK courts. Courts interpret and clarify UK law where there is no clear…