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The Changing Constitution

The Changing Constitution (9th edn)

Sir Jeffrey Jowell and Colm O'Cinneide
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date: 29 February 2024

p. 1887. The Executive in Public Lawlocked

p. 1887. The Executive in Public Lawlocked

  • Thomas Poole


This chapter focuses on the executive, the branch of government responsible for initiating and implementing the laws and for acting where necessary to secure the interests of the state. We trace its development out of a medieval model of government structured around the king and his court, to a modern world of offices exercising executive functions, grouped under the legacy term ‘the Crown’. The resulting institutions display a complicated pattern of law and custom, and legal concepts and principles relate to them often in convoluted ways. Our analysis focuses on how executive power is normally understood from the legal point of view—deriving from an authorizing statute via rules made within a government department to eventual application by subordinate officials or agents—and traces some of the ways the courts monitor that process. But we also examine the executive’s non-statutory or ‘prerogative’ powers, the two main compartments of which are treated separately, as the general executive powers and the general administrative powers of the Crown respectively.

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