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Cover Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Human Rights

2. Parliamentary Sovereignty  

This chapter examines the ways in which parliamentary sovereignty has been both criticised and vindicated in more recent times, first discussing A V Dicey’s theory of parliamentary sovereignty, which has two parts—a positive limb and negative limb. The principle articulated in the positive limb of the theory is that Parliament can make or unmake any law whatsoever. The proposition advanced in the negative limb is that the legality of an Act of Parliament cannot be challenged in a court. The negative and positive limbs of Dicey’s theory offer a simple principle upon which to base an analysis of the constitution. The chapter then discusses the legal authority for the principle of parliamentary sovereignty and reviews challenges to Dicey’s theory.


Cover Public Law Directions

12. The executive  

This chapter discusses the executive, the administrative branch of government which creates and executes policy, and implements laws. It specifically focuses on the organisation of central government in the UK. Central government in the UK carries out day-to-day administration in relation to England and the whole of the UK on non-devolved matters. Its functions include the conduct of foreign affairs, defence, national security, and oversight of the Civil Service and government agencies. Central government essentially consists of the government and Civil Service but modern government is extensive, multi-layered, and complex. The chapter then studies the sources of ministerial power. Ministers’ legal authority to act can derive from statute, common law, or royal prerogative. The royal prerogative is a source of power which is ‘only available for a case not covered by statute’.