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Constitutional Law Essay

1746 words - 7 pages

"Discuss the case for and against a written constitution for the United Kingdom." (2011)According to Colin Munro, a constitution refers to "the body of rules and arrangements concerning the government of the country". In other words, the framework of rules which dictate the way in which power is divided between the various parts of the state and the relationship between the state and the individual. In most countries, their system of rules is contained in a single document called 'the constitution' and this illustrates that there are two ways in which the term 'constitution' can be interpreted: first, as a system of rules; and, second, as a piece of paper which sets out that system of rules.Constitutions stipulate the powers, functions and limitations of the 3 organ of the State, which consists of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. It also includes citizens' rights and liberties, the ideology of the State and the relationship between the domestic/municipal law of the country and international law.Constitution can be divided into two: written and unwritten. Written constitution contains the main rules governing the power of the state and the relationships between the state and the individual in a single document. For the citizens of the country, the constitution is an enormously important document because it prevents the state from abusing its powers and safeguards the rights of the individual. As for unwritten constitutions, countries such as the United Kingdom (UK) with an unwritten constitution have no single document which sets out power relationships within the state. Instead, they have many sources, both written and unwritten, which combine to provide the rules regulating the state.The sources of the UK constitution can broadly be divided into two categories: legal and non-legal. Among the legal sources of the UK constitution are statutory sources such as the Bill of Rights 1689, Act of Union 1707, European Communities Act 1972, Human Rights Act 1998 and the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Common law sources such as case law of constitutional importance, royal prerogatives and parliamentary privileges, European Union laws and the European Convention on Human Rights which was incorporated through the Human Rights Act 1998. Furthermore, the non-legal sources of the UK constitution are constitutional conventions and the view of legal academics.In short, the characteristics of the United Kingdom's constitution are: unitary in structure, largely unwritten in character, parliament is supreme, flexible in nature, exhibits mainly but not completely separated powers and is monarchical.In the recent years, there had been many arguments supporting the view that the UK should adopt a written constitution. If a written constitution was introduced it would significantly affect: the power of government; the relationship between the executive and the Parliament; multi-level governance; relationships between judges and politicians and...

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