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2. Sources of the Constitution
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2. Sources of the Constitution

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  • 1. Sources of the Constitution
  • 2. Sources of the Constitution
  • 3. Statute Law • A statute is a written law passed by an Act of Parliament. It is a law that is enforceable in the courts. • Many statutes do not embody principles affecting the constitution. Others do because they affect the way in which we are governed, and relationships within the state. • e.g. the Representation of the People Acts of 1918, 1928, and 1969
  • 4. EU Law & Treaties • The laws and treaties of the EU have become a significant source of the British constitution. • Where EU law and UK law conflict, EU law takes precedence. • This has been especially important for economic and social legislation.
  • 5. Conventions • A convention is a regularly observed practice considered appropriate for a given set of circumstances. • Constitutional conventions are, therefore, sets of rules established over time by custom and practice, which relate to the exercise of government powers. • Conventions are not legally binding.
  • 6. Major works of authority • Major works of authority have become sources of guidance which are widely recognised and are therefore viewed as authoritative. • They often contain the nearest to a written account that we have of the way the constitution operates. • E.g. Erskine May, Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament (1844), Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution (1867), A. V. Dicey, An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (1885)
  • 7. Major constitutional documents • A number of documents formed the basis of the constitution because they established important principles. • Magna Carta 1215 • Bill of Rights 1689 • Act of Settlement 1701
  • 8. Royal Prerogative • The royal prerogative consists of a number of powers or privileges in the past performed by the monarch but now performed by ministers on his or her behalf. • Their authority is derived from the Crown, not Parliament. • Examples of these powers include the rights to; declare war, make treaties, give orders to the armed forces, dissolve parliament, appoint ministers and dispense honours.
  • 9. Common Law • This is also known as ‘case law’. Common law is made by judges, and is so named because it is common to every person in every region of Britain. • It is law formed on the basis of precedents set in previous cases – i.e. judgements made by one court of law must be followed by other courts in the future if they face a similar case. • Such a law is not the product of the legislative process, but a reflection of the accumulated wisdom of the past which binds judged into acceptance of these legal precedents. • Most of the original laws concerning civil rights began in this way, such as freedom of speech and freedom of movement.
  • 10. EXAM FOCUS Describe the sources of the UK constitution. 10 marks = 10 minutes Start Timer 10 Minutes 10 8 6 4 2 0