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Public Law

Public Law (3rd edn)

John Stanton and Craig Prescott
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date: 29 February 2024

p. 1164. Parliamentary sovereignty: an overviewlocked

p. 1164. Parliamentary sovereignty: an overviewlocked

  • John StantonJohn StantonSenior Lecturer in Law at The City Law School, City, University of London
  •  and Craig PrescottCraig PrescottLecturer in Law, Bangor University


This chapter explores the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. It defines the theory in orthodox terms set out by Dicey and explains the manner in which it has developed out of the Bill of Rights and on the back of the unsettled constitutional times that prevailed during the seventeenth century. It then sets out the legal basis for sovereignty, calling on the authority of Wade, Jennings, and Goldsworthy to explain the importance of the courts’ role in determining and providing the foundation for Parliament’s authority. Next, it explores the fundamental aspects of the orthodox theory, explaining how that operates in practice and discussing the various challenges and limitations that have arisen since the late nineteenth century. The chapter concludes by considering the position of parliamentary sovereignty today, analysing the extent to which orthodox Diceyan theory can be said still to be relevant.

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