The Advantages and Disadvantages of an Unwritten Constitution in the UK
The UK has an unwritten constitution unlike the U.S.A. Instead
Britain's laws, policies and codes are developed through statutes,
common law, convention and more recently E.U law. It is misleading to
call the British constitution unwritten; a more precise form of
classification would be un-codified. This means that the British
constitution has no single document, which states principles and rules
of a state. However, The British constitution clearly sets out how
political power is allocated and where it is legally located. The
British constitution is still visible and it defines composition and
powers of the main offices and institutions of the state.
Fundamentally it 'regulates the relationships between the state and
the citizen.' Bill Coxhall, 1998)
Britain can be distinguished between those countries which incorporate
their major constitutional rules into a single document. Britain is
one of few countries which do not have a codified constitution.
The advantage of not having written or codified is that laws and
policies are evolutionary and can be easily amended. An example of
this is the in-corporation of E.U laws into UK laws. Since parliament
passed the European communities Act in 1972 Britain has accepted the
superiority of European law. The House of Lords has judged certain
English laws to be unlawful in light of EU legislation.
Another advantage of an unwritten or un codified constitution is that
it is evolutionary because it develops with historical changes. An
example of this is when parliament in the UK took total sovereignty
away from the monarchy in 1867. Changes to the British constitution
reflect a changing balance of power. The constitution is important
even though it is not written form because it formed the basis of the
separation of power that we now have, for example between the Lords
and the Commons. This also shows the flexibility of the constitution.
An advantage of the UK constitution is that it takes into account of