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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: 25 April 2024

2. p. 16The Constitutional Rulebooklocked

2. p. 16The Constitutional Rulebooklocked

  • 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 looks at the constitution of the United Kingdom to understand its function as a rulebook: for constitutional arrangements to work well, people need to know what the rules are and there also needs to be broad consensus that the rules are right. It explores the sources of the rules in the United Kingdom’s famously ‘unwritten’ constitution: these include Acts of Parliament, the common law, and constitutional conventions. It also considers the question: who makes the rulebook? To answer this, we must listen to a debate about the respective roles of politicians and judges (called ‘political constitutionalism’ and ‘common law’ or ‘legal’ constitutionalism).

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