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Chapter

Cover Public Law

4. The Rule of Law  

This chapter explains ‘the rule of law’. It first looks at the controversy over how to define the principle. Some experts argue that it should be ‘content-free’, dealing only with the form of law and the procedures by which law is made. Others favour a ‘content-rich’ meaning, so that the substance of laws should have to comply with fundamental rights. The chapter then examines the practical protection of the rule of law. In Britain, all three of the major branches of the state have functions in the development and application of rule of law principles. Judges use various approaches to protect the rule of law when adjudicating on cases. Parliament can enact legislation designed to safeguard the rule of law, though the principle of parliamentary supremacy means that legislation passed by Parliament that infringes the rule of law is not challengeable in the courts. Within government, various office-holders are responsible for ensuring respect for the rule of law.

Chapter

Cover English Legal System

3. Legislation and the law-making process  

This chapter examines the legislative (law-making) process. In the UK, the Westminster Parliament can make primary legislation called Acts of Parliament or ‘Statutes’. Parliament can also grant powers to other bodies to make legislation on Parliament’s behalf, in the form of secondary legislation or delegated legislation. Parliament is comprised of three bodies, the Queen in Parliament, the House of Commons, and the House of Lords. A draft piece of legislation, a bill, which will become an Act of Parliament must be passed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords and then receive Royal Assent. If the House of Commons and House of Lords cannot agree on legislation this can be governed by the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949. Secondary or delegated legislation is necessary for a number of reasons but is subject to controls exercised by Parliamentary and the courts.

Chapter

Cover English Legal System Concentrate

3. Sources of Law I: Domestic Legislation  

Each Concentrate revision guide is packed with essential information, key cases, revision tips, exam Q&As, and more. This chapter examines domestic legislation. Domestic legislation is created by Parliament, which consists of the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and the Monarch. It is divided into primary legislation and secondary legislation. Primary legislation takes the form of ‘Acts of Parliament’, commonly referred to as ‘statutes’. Statutes can cover a vast variety of laws including criminal law, land law, contract law, and many others. Meanwhile, secondary legislation—also known as delegated legislation or subordinate legislation—is the most common instrument for implementing change within the UK. Parliament has neither the time, the resources, nor the expertise to deal with certain matters. It is for these reasons that the majority of legislation is made outside of Parliament. Accordingly, Parliament may delegate such powers, through an Act of Parliament to other bodies and institutions to implement. Such bodies often include the Privy Council, government ministers, local authorities, and other regulatory agencies.

Chapter

Cover Public Law Directions

10. The Legislature: membership, privileges, and standards  

This chapter explores the role and membership of Parliament’s two chambers, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the operation of parliamentary privilege; and accountability of members. The key functions of Parliament include controlling national expenditure and taxation; sustaining the government; legislating and scrutinising government actions. The House of Commons is the pre-eminent chamber and dominates Parliament. The Commons’ membership consists of Members of Parliament (MPs) who are democratically elected by the public to represent their interests in Parliament. The membership of the House of Lords largely relies on patronage. Members of the Lords are appointed by the Queen on the Prime Minister’s advice. The House of Lords is an important revising and scrutinising chamber, and while it is subordinate to the democratically elected House of Commons, it is also a check on constitutional change by the Commons. The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 redefined the Lords’ legislative powers over public bills and established the Commons’ primacy. The chapter then considers the operation of parliamentary privilege. Parliament needs parliamentary privilege to conduct its core business effectively, independently, and without fear of outside interference, and to protect everything said or done in the transaction of parliamentary business. Indeed, Parliament is self-regulating and, as a sovereign body, operates outside the jurisdiction of the courts except for the criminal law. Each House has its own standards of conduct and disciplinary powers which ensure accountability.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

4. Parliamentary sovereignty: an overview  

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.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

12. Primary Legislation  

This chapter examines ‘primary legislation’ (UK Acts of Parliament) and how it is made. We look at who or what is the ‘legislature’ in the British constitution; the roles of different institutions in policymaking; drafting bills by Parliamentary Counsel; pre-legislative scrutiny of some ‘draft bills’ before the start of the formal legislative process in Parliament; the parliamentary year; parliamentary stages of a bill—first reading, second reading, committee stage, report stage, and third reading; bills of constitutional importance; the constitutional framework for bringing legislation into force; how government and Parliament carries out post-legislative scrutiny of some Acts of Parliament to review how they are operating in practice; and legislative functions in the British system of devolution.

Chapter

Cover European Union Law

3. The EU’s political institutions  

Steve Peers

This chapter examines the possible tension between democracy and effectiveness in the context of the EU’s political institutions: the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, and the Commission. To this end, it examines in turn the composition, powers, and functioning of each of these institutions, comparing them to national systems and assessing their democratic accountability and the effectiveness of their functioning. It shows that the role of various EU institutions has evolved over time—in particular to strengthen the legislative role of the European Parliament, and that body’s control over the Commission.

Chapter

Cover European Union Law

3. The EU’s political institutions  

Steve Peers

This chapter examines the possible tension between democracy and effectiveness in the context of the EU’s political institutions: the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, and the Commission. To this end, it examines in turn the composition, powers, and functioning of each of these institutions, comparing them to national systems and assessing their democratic accountability and the effectiveness of their functioning. It shows that the role of various EU institutions has evolved over time - in particular to strengthen the legislative role of the European Parliament, and that body’s control over the Commission.

Chapter

Cover Company Law Concentrate

2. Incorporation  

This chapter discusses the process of incorporation and the advantages and disadvantages of conducting business through a company. The three principal methods by which a company can be incorporated are: incorporation by Act of Parliament, incorporation by Royal Charter, and incorporation by registration. The advantages of incorporation include perpetual succession, asset ownership, and the ability to commence legal proceedings. The disadvantages of incorporation include increased formality, regulation, publicity, and civil liability.

Chapter

Cover Company Law Concentrate

2. Incorporation  

Each Concentrate revision guide is packed with essential information, key cases, revision tips, exam Q&As, and more. Concentrates show you what to expect in a law exam, what examiners are looking for, and how to achieve extra marks. This chapter discusses the process of incorporation and the advantages and disadvantages of conducting business through a company. The three principal methods by which a company can be incorporated are: incorporation by Act of Parliament, incorporation by Royal Charter, and incorporation by registration. The advantages of incorporation include perpetual succession, asset ownership, and the ability to commence legal proceedings. The disadvantages of incorporation include increased formality, regulation, publicity, and civil liability.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

13. Primary Legislation  

This chapter examines ‘primary legislation’, in the form of UK Acts of Parliament, and how they are made. The discussions cover who or what is the ‘legislature’ in the British constitution; the roles of different institutions in policymaking; drafting bills by Parliamentary Counsel; pre-legislative scrutiny of some ‘draft bills’ before the start the formal legislative process in Parliament ; the parliamentary year; parliamentary stages of a bill—first reading, second reading, committee stage, report stage, and third reading; bills of constitutional importance; the constitutional framework for bringing legislation into force; how government and Parliament carries out post-legislative scrutiny of some Acts of Parliament to review how they are operating in practice; and legislative functions in the British system of devolution.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

4. The Rule of Law  

This chapter explains ‘the rule of law’. It first presents a definition of the rule of law followed by a discussion of the practical protection of the rule of law. In Britain, all three of the major branches of the state — the judiciary, Parliament, and government (especially through the office of Lord Chancellor) — have functions in the development and application of rule of law principles.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Public Law

Case of Proclamations [1610] 77 ER 1352, 12 Co Rep 74, King’s Bench  

Essential Cases: Public Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Case of Proclamations [1610] 77 ER 1352 12 Co Rep 74, King’s Bench. This classic public law case concerned whether the King could rule by proclamation, or whether he was required to rule through Parliament. It provides one of the core foundations of the law limiting the scope of the royal prerogative today. The document also includes supporting commentary and questions from author Thomas Webb.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Public Law

Case of Proclamations [1610] 77 ER 1352, 12 Co Rep 74, King’s Bench  

Essential Cases: Public Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Case of Proclamations [1610] 77 ER 1352 12 Co Rep 74, King’s Bench. This classic public law case concerned whether the King could rule by proclamation, or whether he was required to rule through Parliament. It provides one of the core foundations of the law limiting the scope of the royal prerogative today. The document also includes supporting commentary and questions from author Thomas Webb.

Chapter

Cover Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Human Rights

6. The House of Lords  

This chapter examines whether the House of Lords plays an effective anti-majoritarian legislative role. The chapter begins by discussing the changing nature of the relationship between the Commons and the Lords in the post-revolutionary era, focusing in particular on the emergence in the early nineteenth century of a political presumption that the Lords was becoming the inferior partner within Parliament and on the passage of the Parliament Act 1911 in which legal force was given to that political presumption. The chapter also addresses the various proposals put forward in the modern era to reform both the composition and the powers of the House of Lords, and suggests that most reform plans present a paradox. The more we ask a second chamber to perform functions complementary to those of the Commons, the more we demand of its members that they be (as individuals and as a body) ‘expert’, ‘experienced’, and ‘nonpartisan’, and so the more we reveal the crushing dominance of party politics in the lower house, and the incapacity and/or unwillingness of backbench MPs to exert a restraining influence on government activities. This suggests that the key division within the legislative process is now not Lords versus Commons, nor Labour versus Conservative, but party versus national interest. The final part of the chapter explores a more obviously ‘legal’ question; namely the implications of the Parliament Act 1911 for traditional understandings of the doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty.

Chapter

Cover Complete Public Law

11. Executive Power and Accountability  

Titles in the Complete series combine extracts from a wide range of primary materials with clear explanatory text to provide readers with a complete introductory resource. This chapter examines the nature and extent of the power that the executive uses to run the country and begins by defining executive power, and by explaining where it is derived and who may exercise it. It then discusses the mechanisms by which an executive can be called to account for its exercise of power; the extent to which Parliament may hold the government accountable; and the extent that courts may hold the government accountable.

Chapter

Cover Complete Public Law

12. Responsible Government and Constitutional Conventions  

Titles in the Complete series combine extracts from a wide range of primary materials with clear explanatory text to provide readers with a complete introductory resource. This chapter discusses the nature and extent of constitutional conventions, which are political rules that are binding upon those to whom they apply. They apply to the relationships between the Crown, Parliament, the judiciary, the civil service, and the executive, and play a key role in limiting the powers granted to institutions of government by unwritten rules or sources. Constitutional conventions also regulate key parts of the relationship between the institutions of government. The doctrine of ministerial responsibility is one of the most important examples of constitutional conventions regulating the behaviour of the executive. There are two main branches of ministerial responsibility. One is individual ministerial responsibility—that is, a minister’s obligation to account to Parliament for his or her words and actions and for those of his or her civil servants. The second branch of ministerial responsibility is collective ministerial responsibility. Amongst other things, collective ministerial responsibility prescribes that decisions reached by the Cabinet or other ministerial committees are binding on all members of the government, regardless of whether or not the individual ministers agree with them.

Chapter

Cover Complete Public Law

8. Parliamentary Supremacy and Membership of the European Union  

Titles in the Complete series combine extracts from a wide range of primary materials with clear explanatory text to provide readers with a complete introductory resource. This chapter provides an overview of the relationship between the European Union (EU) and the UK and the impact of this relationship on Parliament’s legislative supremacy. It begins by considering the nature of the EU and the sources of EU law. It then examines how EU membership affected the UK legal order during the UK’s membership and its implications for parliamentary supremacy. It considers the impact of Brexit and the UK–EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement on the UK’s constitutional framework.

Chapter

Cover Public Law Concentrate

1. Introduction to constitutional law  

Each Concentrate revision guide is packed with essential information, key cases, revision tips, exam Q&As, and more. Concentrates show you what to expect in a law exam, what examiners are looking for, and how to achieve extra marks. This chapter discusses the definition of constitutional law and the characteristics of the British Constitution. Constitutional law looks at a body of legal rules and political arrangements concerning the government of a country. A constitution may take the form of a document or set of documents which declare that a country and its chosen form of government legitimately exists. The British Constitution is largely unwritten, flexible in nature, and based on absolute parliamentary sovereignty. The UK is also a unitary state. There is a central government, as well as devolved legislative and executive bodies in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England. It is also a constitutional monarchy. This means that the head of state is a king or queen and that they exercise their powers in and through a parliamentary system of government in which the members of the executive are accountable to a sovereign parliament.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Public Law

R v Chaytor and others [2010] UKSC 52, Supreme Court  

Essential Cases: Public Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in R v Chaytor and others [2010] UKSC 52, Supreme Court. This case considered the extent of parliamentary privilege, and the courts’ role in interpreting it. The document also includes supporting commentary and questions from author Thomas Webb.