Uncodified Nature of the British Constitutional System

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Harvey Mudd College
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British constitution system is said to be uncodified. For a constitution to be termed as uncodified or unwritten constitution, it means that its fundamental rules have the tendencies of taking the forms of customs, usage, and precedent. The uncodified constitution is also characterized by the use of different statutes as well as various legal instruments. This implies that an understanding of the law is drawn from the reading commentary, which is mainly provided by the judiciary and legal experts who are affiliated with the government (Bogdanor, 2009, p12). Most of the modern states are identified with the codified constitution which is not the case with Britain since it has an unwritten constitution.

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The constitution system adopted by British was formed through the acts of parliament, judicial rulings, and conventions. The uncodified nature of the British constitution makes its existence to be perceived in an abstract manner. It shall consist of a wide array of laws and conventions which have evolved significantly (Blackburn, 2008, p3). For instance, in 1659, there was an introduction of bill rights which paved the way for the parliamentary supremacy. This led to King James II replacement. This highlights the journey that Britains constitution system has undergone over time.

Some of the aspects of the British constitution which make it be referred to as uncodified because of the sovereignty of its parliamentary system, which makes Britain have a supreme legislative arm of the government. The Uncodified nature of the British constitution is also characterized by political conventions which are perceived to be a set of political customs (Blackburn, 2009, p4). The conventions are made up of undocumented constitutional practices which are essential to the countrys politics and the functionality of its government. However, these rules (conventions) have not been incorporated into a written law. For instance, the conventions adopted by the British constitution are manifested when it comes to defining various roles in the house of the commons. This involves criteria used in identifying the majority leader or finding the head of the parties participating in a coalition.

It can, therefore, be asserted that British constitution is identified with features which make it be categorized as a uncodified or unwritten law. It can, therefore, be contended that the uncodified nature of British constitution plays a vital role when it comes to promoting democracy, transparency, mandate and other elements of accountability. In general, the British constitution is made up of various constitutional principle which is distinctly important in different aspects.

Separation of powers:

Separation of powers is a constitutional principle which involves allocation of authority to three separate branches of the government which includes: the executive, legislative and judicial. Under this model of governance, each of section of the state is characterized by a given degree of powers, making them work independently (Masterman, 2010, p18). The unique element regarding the separation of authority in the British Constitution is that there is no absolute or clear principle of separation of powers in its constitution. It is revealed that there exist various overlaps which are manifested in the functions vested in different segments of the state as well as the personnel gave the duty of working within these respective organs of the government

It follows that the powers of the British government are exercised through legislative, executive and the judicial system. These sections of the states regarding the power division operate within a given framework of the powers assigned to an individual organ of the state. The branches of the British government might be working independently, but there exist checks and controls which are meant to govern their specific functionalities. This attests that their limitations within which a given state organ, say, executive, can exercise its powers (Masterman, 2010, p18). This feature, which is implemented through the existence of the separation of authority plays an integral role as far the British constitution is concerned since abuses or misuse of power. As a way of strengthening the checks and balances meant to deter abuse of authority, the parliamentary, executive and judiciary systems check on each other to ensure each branch is working within its jurisdiction.

It is apparent the British idea of the separation of powers encompasses the legislative, executive and the judicial sections having a detailed set of authority and responsibilities vested in them. Previously, the existence of the monarchy system was only meant to influence the operations of the government. However, the monarchy is now a little emblem of the British sovereignty (Bogdanor, 2009, p25). According to the assertions of the John Lock and Charles Montesquieu, the separation of powers can only be effective once there exists the checks and balances whose operations can be likened to an individual who is at the center of a circle and he is being chased by others. From this juncture, it is revealed that apart from abuse of power, the principle of energy separation is also significant when it comes to outlining the duties and responsibilities of each state organ, thus avoiding the cases of role interferences.

The Constitution Reform Act 2005 led to the introduction of some changes in the three bodies of the British government. Some of the changes involved reforms in the office of Lord Chancellor. This was followed by alterations in the Supreme Court as well as regulations in the procedures of judge appointments (Masterman, 2010, p18). Initially, the appointment of the judges was made by the Queen, who largely dependent on the advice was given by Lord Chancellor. This created discontents among various concerned factions, alleging that this whole practice was being done under the influence of politics.

The constitutional amendments done under Constitutional Reforms Act 2005 were, therefore, significant in restoring the faith of Britons towards the judicial system. Under the newly reformed constitution, the Judicial Appointments Commission was set up to cater for the process of selecting judges (Masterman, 2010, p18). As an independent body, the Judicial Appointment Commission ensured that the selection of the judges was made on the basis merit as opposed to political influences or lobbying. This act was considered to impartially useful when it comes to the provision a fair trial in the British court systems.

Parliamentary Sovereignty

The parliamentary sovereignty is one of the core principles as far as the British constitution is concerned. Apparently, this doctrine of the UK constitution makes the British legislative to be a supreme legal authority, thus being vested with authority sufficient enough to make it create as well as terminating any given law. This implies that the judicial arm has the limited mandate in overruling the legislation done by the parliament. The laws enacted by the legislative are also liable to the future changes by the new legislature (William, 2011, p23). In the recent times, there have been numerous developments in the British constitution which have since led to a decline in the countrys parliamentary sovereignty. It is through the passing of a different set of laws which have ultimately brought limitation in the implementation of the parliamentary sovereignty. Perhaps the application of these rules can be used to attest the political advancements, not only within the United Kingdom but also outside the UK.

Another unique feature regarding the principle of the parliamentary sovereignty is devolution of power. The devolution of the authority in the United Kingdom prompted the introduction of the Scottish national Parliament, Welsh National Assembly, and Northern Irish National Assembly. This process has been significant when it comes to transferring the powers vested in the UK parliament towards different parliaments of the UK nations. However, the process of devolution in Britain has been done systematically to ensure that the UK parliament retains a specified authority over the institutions which have been devolved (William, 2011, p23). The devolution of the powers is, therefore, essential since the powers that were initially held by a single entity (parliament) are now devolved to other separate bodies such as Scottish, Welsh and Irish legislatures.

As part of the power devolution in the UK, there was some set of control elements which were kept reserved, indicating that they did not undergo the process of devolution. The reserved powers were characterized by the various functionality of the state government which included UK defense system and the foreign policies. These features have been maintained by UK Parliament in Westminster (William, 2011, p24). Furthermore, the Parliament Sovereignty has also been significant in advocating for the fundamental human rights. For instances, through the Human Rights Act 1998, UKs parliamentary system was able to pass various laws which were significant as far as the human protection rights are concerned.

However, after the post-Brexit, the government has embarked on stipulating plans which will facilitate the scrapping of the current British Human Rights Act. This has been proposed as part of implementation strategy on the British exit from the European Union. Apparently, British parliamentary system has been forefront when it comes to the introduction of the changes in the Human Rights (Truss, 2009, p3). For instance, the Conservative Party had been committed to its manifestos of pushing for the enactment of the British Bill of Rights which was perceived as a direct replacement of the current bill of rights. All these aspects attest that the parliamentary sovereignty is a crucial principle of the British Constitution since it has played a critical role in creating and abolishing policies and laws adopted by the UK.

The rule of law.

The rule of law is also one of the core principal of the British uncodified constitution. According to the functionality of this doctrine, the law is supposed to be applied equally, not only the subject (those being ruled/ordinary citizens) but also to the rulers. This can be likened to the assertions by A.V. Diecy in the 19th century who alleged that it is supposed to be a government of law as opposed to the government of men (Harden & Lewis, 1988, p31). These statements are critical in highlight the importance of the rule of law as the principle of the British constitution. Another option for the rule of law is the existence of an arbitrary government.

It follows that the rule of law plays a significant role in establishing a democratic nation, as attested in the United Kingdom, since it fosters the creation of the relationship between the government and the citizens. The rule of law is also important when it comes to barring the inception of the dictatorial regimes (Harden & Lewis, 1988, p31). Tyrannical government sets at the moment the rule of law fails, which can be detrimental to the implementation of the democratically enacted policies and regulations. The rule of law as the doctrine of the British constitution also advocates for application of the law towards all conducts and behaviors. This paves the way for an equal use of the policies on every citizen: whether a private or public official. This indicates that no one is above the law, with the court system earmarked as the pivotal tool in legal redressing. It is in such scenarios that the importance of an independent judiciary is manifested.

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