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The Rule Of Law Essay

1375 words - 6 pages

The Rule of Law

The United Kingdomis generally regarded as a country that has a
tradition of respect for the rule of law. In general terms this means
that there is a historical tradition of public bodies providing a
specific legal justification for their actions, and of the courts
adjudicating impartially on disputes between citizens and on disputes
between citizens and the state. Furthermore this also means that those
in power will abide by the rulings of the courts. However adherence to
the rule of law does not mean that public authorities do not act
illegally. The central issue is that such unlawfulness is identified
and remedied.

Many societies that today expound the virtues of the doctrine of the
rule of law will in fact have their origins in criminality and
revolution. The history of the USA is an example on this point. The
concept of the rule of law has been recognised since at least the 4th
century BC when Aristotle expressed the view that the rule of law was
preferable to that of any individual. His view was that those in power
should be subject to some sort of 'higher' law and should govern in
accordance with that law. Writing in the Victorian era Professor A V
Dicey in his work The Law of the Constitution stated that the rule of
law was one of the main features of the constitution of the United
Kingdom and that, in this context, the phrase embraced at least three
distinct though kindred concepts.

In his 1st theory Dicey was asserting that, in those societies where
the rule of law obtains, the law does not give those in authority
wide, discretionary powers to interfere with the personal freedom or
property of the subjects. Thus according to Dicey in the United
Kingdom where the rule of law was most emphatically present in
contrast to continental countries such as Switzerland and France,
those in authority could only interfere with the personal freedom or
property of a subject if that subject had breached a specific law of
the land and the breach had been established before the ordinary
courts of the land in the proper legal manner. A contemporary example
of Dicey's theory can be seen in the case of A-G V Blake where the
House of Lords allowed the Attorney General's claim for a freezing
order to prevent the defendant for receiving further royalties due to
a breach of Contract with the Crown.

In his second concept of the rule of law, Dicey was concerned to
distinguish English law from the law of, for example, France, where
there was in contrast to England, a separate set of administrative
courts for adjudicating in legal disputes between a subject and a
government official. Such disputes would in England at the time be
dealt with in the ordinary civil courts. He expressed this by saying
that "every man whatever his rank or condition, is subject to the
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