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Public LawText, Cases, and Materials

Public Law: Text, Cases, and Materials (4th edn)

Andrew Le Sueur, Maurice Sunkin, and Jo Eric Khushal Murkens
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date: 21 April 2024

10. Prerogative Powerslocked

10. Prerogative Powerslocked

  • Andrew Le Sueur, Andrew Le SueurProfessor of Constitutional Justice, University of Essex
  • Maurice SunkinMaurice SunkinProfessor of Public Law and Socio-Legal Studies, University of Essex
  •  and Jo Eric Khushal MurkensJo Eric Khushal MurkensAssociate Professor of Law, London School of Economics and Political Science


This chapter examines the meaning and the continuing significance of prerogative powers. Prerogative powers are those that were originally exercised by the Monarch before the modern parliamentary system was established. While most prerogative powers have now been replaced by statutory powers, prerogative powers remain important in some contexts, especially in relation to the conduct of the United Kingdom’s foreign affairs. In this context the decision of the UK Supreme Court in R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union is of particular importance. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 2 considers the various legal foundations on which central government ministers may base their actions and compares prerogative and statutory powers. Section 3 examines prerogative power—a source of power possessed only by ministers in UK government and the monarch—in more detail. Section 4 considers the progress towards the reform of ministerial prerogatives.

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