UK's Constitution: The Rule of Law and Parliamentary Sovereignty

1669 WordsJun 19, 20187 Pages
Parliamentary sovereignty, a core principle of the UK's constitution, essentially states that the Parliament is the ultimate legal authority, which possesses the power to create, modify or end any law. The judiciary cannot question its legislative competence, and a Parliament is not bound by former legislative provisions of earlier Parliaments. The ‘rule of law’ on the other hand, is a constitutional doctrine which primarily governs the operation of the legal system and the manner in which the powers of the state are exercised. However, since the Parliament is capable of making any law whatsoever, the concept of the rule of law poses a contradiction to the principle of parliamentary supremacy, entailing that Parliament is not bound by the…show more content…
Although these issues were not disputed, the significance of the House of Lords' judgment corresponds elegantly with the rising willingness of some judges to see their role, where essential, as a constitutional court. Some judges in their obiter dicta have declared their inclination to disregard the Parliament’s legislative objectives, and therefore limit parliamentary sovereignty if the rule of law is vulnerable or if the circumstances demand “a principle established on a different hypothesis of constitutionalism” . They have also suggested that, while the British Constitution is dominated by parliamentary sovereignty, “The rule of law enforced by the courts is the ultimate controlling factor on which our constitution is based” . This represents a possibility of stretching the dominance of the rule of law in constitutional law so that it becomes more powerful than parliamentary sovereignty in the British Constitution . Lord Hope has argued that, ‘Parliamentary sovereignty is no longer, if it ever was, absolute …' Hence it can be said that, considering the ‘rule of law' as the ultimate factor, it is this, and not Parliamentary sovereignty, that is accountable for the respective powers of the Parliament and the courts. Baroness Hale agreed that, ‘the courts will treat with particular suspicion any attempt to subvert the rule of law.' Also, Lord Steyn candidly stated, ‘supremacy of Parliament is still the
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