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Chapter

Cover Public Law

1. Introduction to Constitutional Fundamentals  

This introduction examines the ideas of constitutions as a text of fundamental importance, setting out how a country should be governed, and as a system of government. Also explored is the question why the United Kingdom has not adopted a codified constitution and the consequences of this.

Chapter

Cover Constitutional and Administrative Law

1. The meaning of a constitution  

This chapter begins with a discussion of the meaning of the term ‘constitution’. It distinguishes between a written and an unwritten constitution and outlines the special procedures for amending written constitutions. Constitutions are frequently classified according to their characteristics, and several of the more common classifications are explained in this chapter. The chapter also considers: the value of written constitutions, the unwritten nature of the UK constitution, whether the UK has a constitution, sources of the UK constitution, and the changing nature of the UK constitution. It concludes by addressing the question of whether the UK should have a written constitution.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

8. Introduction to Executive Functions  

This chapter provides an overview of the themes covered in Part II of the book, consisting of Chapters 8-11. It addresses the following questions: What is executive function? What is the role of a constitution in relation to executive functions? It then summarizes the basic constitutional and legal aspects of the various executive bodies considered in Chapter.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

1. Introduction to Constitutional Fundamentals  

This first chapter examines the idea of a constitution as a text of fundamental importance and as a system of government. Constitution as ‘text’ and ‘system’ both set out how a country is and should be governed. The United Kingdom clearly has a constitution but it is not written down, or codified, in a single text. This is very unusual: almost every other country has a written codified constitution. The chapter explores the question why the United Kingdom has not adopted a codified text of its constitution and the consequences of this which include enabling aspects of the constitution to be easily changed while retaining the overall stability of the system.

Book

Cover Public Law

Mark Elliott and Robert Thomas

Public Law is an advanced text that comprehensively covers the key topics in the field of public law. The book presents an analysis of the law and institutions of public law, and places the legal issues within the wider socio-political context within which the constitution operates. Three key themes that permeate the content allow readers to approach the subject in a structured way. The key themes are the significance of executive power in the contemporary constitution and the challenge of ensuring that those who wield it are held to account, the shift in recent times from a political to a more legal constitution and the implications of this change, and the increasingly ‘multilayered’ character of the British constitution.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

1. Public Law—An Introduction  

This chapter provides an overview of public law, introducing the key institutions, principles, and practices that characterise the constitutional arrangements of the United Kingdom.

Chapter

Cover Concentrate Questions and Answers Public Law

12. Coursework  

The Q&A series offers the best preparation for tackling exam questions. Each chapter includes typical questions, diagram problem and essay answer plans, suggested answers, notes of caution, tips on obtaining extra marks, the key debates on each topic, and suggestions on further reading. This chapter contains some advice on writing coursework. The contents range from the mechanics of how coursework fits into the assessment of the module to the rules on presentation and referencing. The standard referencing system used for law is OSCOLA, the Oxford University Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities. There is advice on researching coursework, such as the use of primary legal materials and articles, an explanation about how the coursework might be marked, and some straightforward advice on plagiarism is given. A coursework example question, with accompanying answer guidance, is also available.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

1. The UK Constitution  

This chapter provides an introduction to the UK Constitution and sets out a foundation upon which discussions in later chapters further develop. It starts by exploring definitions of constitutions, placing the unique UK system within commonly accepted themes and characteristics. It then moves to explain the nature and form of the UK Constitution and some of the sources of which it is constructed, as well as exploring some of the more theoretical considerations as regards its character, including the way in which it is legitimised. The final section considers academic questions concerning whether or not the UK can be said to have a constitution, including discussion of the case for and against a codified system.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

9. Devolution  

Devolution refers to the decentralization of power from central institutions in London to regional institutions exercising executive and legislative authority in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This chapter explores the principle of devolution, both in terms of its historical development and its constitutional importance. It discusses recent issues and debates relevant to the role that it continues to play in the UK Constitution through the established institutions in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. All this is tied together in consideration of a problem scenario which encourages discussion of the powers of the devolved institutions and their relationship with centralized authority at Westminster.

Chapter

Cover Administrative Law

1. Administration and the principles of the constitution  

Administrative law includes a complex variety of processes and doctrines that confer and control public power. This chapter outlines the underlying principles of administrative law. Topics discussed include the core principle of administrative law: opposition to arbitrary use of power. That principle is introduced through the story of habeas corpus from the middle ages to the twenty-first century. The constitutional principles of administrative law also include parliamentary sovereignty, the separation of powers, the rule of law, comity among constitutional authorities, accountability, and a newly emerging principle of open government. The chapter shows how the common law and legislation can achieve adherence to these principles of administrative law.

Chapter

Cover The Changing Constitution

15. The Democratic Case for a Written Constitution  

Jeff King

Written constitutions have often been viewed as the bridle for unchecked political majoritarianism, as a restraint on government, and hence as a limiting device rather than a form of democratic political expression. Breaking with that tradition, this article sets out a democratic case for a written constitution and contrasts it with the rights-based and clarity-based cases. It then proceeds to show why the case against written constitutions—which are broadly located in a conservative critique, an anti-rationalist critique and an anti-judicialization critique—are misguided. Nevertheless, a democratic case for a written constitution necessarily raises challenging questions about how the constitution will be enacted, and how rigidly entrenched it should be. Answers to these questions are presented in Parts III and IV of the article. In the former, it is argued for a constituent assembly consisting of party and direct citizen representation. In the latter, defence of a model of entrenchment is discussed that permits amendment through a simple majoritarian parliamentary procedure in conjunction with a referendum, and, most controversially, a provision requiring a new constitutional convention about once in a generation. This is the type of democratic constitution, in the author’s view, that accommodates the need for a liberal egalitarian constitutional order that takes both rights and democracy seriously.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

3. Themes, Sources, and Principles  

This chapter discusses the UK’s constitutional arrangements, and in particular, four important issues concerning the UK constitution, of which it is necessary to be aware at the outset. First, it sets out the three key themes that emerge from the study of contemporary UK public law, and second, examines the sources of the UK constitution. Third, the chapter addresses a number of principles that occupy a central role in UK public law, before finally considering whether the UK should adopt a written, or codified, constitution.

Chapter

Cover Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Human Rights

1. Defining the Constitution?  

This chapter identifies evaluative criteria that readers may wish to keep in mind when considering the description and analysis of the United Kingdom’s current constitutional arrangements presented in the rest of the book. The chapter begins by exploring what we might regard from a contemporary perspective as the essential features of the governmental systems adopted in a ‘democratic’ state. In order to illustrate the very contested nature of this concept of ‘democracy’, the chapter presents and analyses several hypothetical examples of what we might (or might not) regard as acceptable forms of governance, and explores the the notion of a country’s constitution being properly described as as a social and political contract formulated by its citizens. The chapter concludes by examining briefly the solutions adopted by the American revolutionaries to resolve the constitutional difficulties they faced when the United States became an independent country.

Chapter

Cover Public Law Directions

1. Introducing constitutions and public law  

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the idea and importance of constitutions. A constitution is essentially a rulebook for how a state is run, and its function is to impose order and stability; to allocate power, rights, and responsibility; and control the power of the state. Indeed, a state’s constitution sets out the structure and powers of government and the relationship between individuals and the state, and a balanced constitution ensures a balance of power between the institutions of government. New constitutions can arise either through a process of evolution or as an act of deliberate creation. The chapter then considers the UK constitution. Public law is a fundamentally important part of the UK’s national law and is the law about government and public administration. It places limitations on the power of the state through objective, independent controls. It is also known as ‘constitutional and administrative law’.

Chapter

Cover Public Law Directions

2. How the UK constitution has developed  

This chapter discusses the historical development of the UK constitution. The key to understanding the evolution of the British constitution is to imagine it being shaped by a dynamic ebb and flow of power between the key players—the monarch, Parliament, the Church, governments, judges—to determine the issue of where supreme power and authority would ultimately settle and reside. In the case of the UK, supreme authority settled in the monarch in Parliament, while political power resided with the executive. The chapter then argues that the constitution is fluid and changing, despite the received view that it has evolved slowly and peacefully without invasion or violent revolution. Despite fluctuations in power, and changes in Britain’s territorial composition and external alliances, there has always been a sense that the constitution is based on the collective memory of ancient laws and principles that fundamentally protect the people and cannot be changed.

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Cover Public Law

2. The institutions of government and the separation of powers  

This chapter explores the key institutions—the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary—and considers the relevance of the principle of the separation of powers in respect of the UK Constitution. It begins with a discussion of the functions fulfilled by these institutions, including an examination of their structure and key roles, allowing fuller exploration of the separation of powers doctrine in the UK Constitution. The chapter identifies a common distinction drawn between what is known as the pure and partial separation of powers: The former favours total separation, while the latter allows a degree of overlap to the point of ensuring a system of checks and balances. Application of this distinction enables broader exploration of the UK’s application of the separation of powers doctrine.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

3. The rule of law  

This chapter starts by defining the rule of law, explaining its importance, and placing its origins in Ancient Greece and the writings of Aristotle. Following a brief consideration of how the principle has developed since that time, it discusses the writing of Dicey, whose seminal text, An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (1885), explored the meaning of the rule of law and its place in the UK Constitution. The chapter then considers broader theories of the rule of law, dividing these into those that support what are known as ‘formal conceptions’ of the rule of law, and ‘substantive conceptions’ of the rule of law. Finally, it explores the way in which the rule of law can be said to apply in the UK Constitution, both historically and in terms of modern-day authorities.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

7. Introduction to Executive Functions  

This chapter provides an overview of the themes covered in Part II of the book, consisting of Chapters 8–10. It addresses the following questions: What is the executive function? Broadly, this can be defined as the powers of government to decide issues of policy, to raise and spend public money, and to implement decisions. What is the role of a constitution in relation to executive functions? Generally, we can say that constitutions have a dual role: they enable executive action (by providing institutional and procedural frameworks for decision-making) and they also constrain it (to ensure that it stays within what is permitted by law and to make governments accountable for their actions). It then summarizes the basic constitutional and legal aspects of the various executive bodies considered in the Chapter.

Book

Cover Constitutional and Administrative Law
The purpose of this book is to introduce the reader to the fundamental principles and concepts of constitutional and administrative law. It is highly popular with undergraduates for its clear writing style and the ease with which it guides the reader through key principles of public law. This twelfth edition incorporates the significant developments in this ever-changing area of the law. The book also includes a range of useful features to help students get to grips with the subject matter. These include further reading suggestions to support deeper research, a large number of self-test questions to help reinforce knowledge, and chapter summaries and numbered paragraphs to aid navigation and revision. This new edition has been fully updated to cover all the latest reforms in constitutional and administrative law, including those relating to devolution and Brexit.

Chapter

Cover European Union Law

4. Constitutionalism and the European Union  

Robert Schütze

This chapter addresses the question of whether the EU has a constitution. This question has plagued EU law ever since its birth. The chapter explores the formal constitutionalist credentials of the Union legal order and shows that the Union has claimed that the EU Treaties constitute the highest law in Europe. It then examines the constitutional nature of the Union from a ‘democratic’ perspective. Finally, it evaluates the Union legal order through the lens of liberal constitutionalism. This ‘classic’ constitutionalism assesses the legal nature of a document by insisting on a separation of powers and the existence of fundamental rights.