• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Reform of the judiciary has made it a powerful check on the executive. How far do you agree with this statement?

Extracts from this document...


Transfer-Encoding: chunked ?Reform of the judiciary has made it a powerful check on the executive.? How far do you agree with this statement? The political function of the judiciary is to act as a check upon the executive by upholding the rule of law. The judiciary is there to prevent the arbitrary abuse of power by the government. In order to do this the judiciary must be independent of the executive or else it becomes an instrument of executive power, as in dictatorships. The history of the relationship between the executive and the judiciary in Britain is a complicated one. There have been some elements of that relationship that clearly sought to preserve judicial independence while others seemed to undermine the principle: the position of the Lord Chancellor is an obvious example. The idea that the executive should be separate from the judiciary was first mentioned by Montesquieu in Spirit of the Laws. Reforms introduced by the Labour government after 1997 had the express intention of increasing the independence of the judiciary: abolition of the position of Lord Chancellor; creation of a Ministry of Justice; establishment of an independent judicial appointments body; the creation of the Human Rights Act. ...read more.


Judges also face scrutiny from within their own profession. The legal profession is what is called self-regulating; their actions are scrutinised by the Law society. Lawyers are also not trained by the state as elsewhere in Europe. Judges must explain all their rulings in great detail. The Kilmuir Rules encourages judges to not be public figures. Moreover, the judicial appointments commission, which was established in 2006 after the 2005 Constitutional Reform Act, deals independently with the prospective appointments for the judiciary. They had previously been appointed by the Prime Minister, which was not very democratic as he could appoint judges sympathetic to his views. This has resulted in a number of very independent-minded judges emerging at senior levels. Many of these judges feel they do have a politically important role. Several of these judges are also willing to use the media to express their views. Furthermore, the EU has an impact on the ability of the judiciary to be a powerful check on the executive. The Social Chapter of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty transferred a lot control over employment and other social rights over to the EU. In these areas the UK judiciary is required to enforce such laws and interpret their meaning. ...read more.


Another reason why reform of the judiciary has not made it a powerful check on the executive is that Cameron has the power to veto decisions made by the Judicial Appointments Commission. However, this is a theoretical problem that had not yet occurred. The government retains control of the legal system through the Justice Ministry. This does not constitute direct control, but suggests a good deal of interference. Moreover, subjudice has been breached in the past. In recent years there has been an increasing tendency for politicians to enter into open political dialogue with judges over such issues as sentencing policy and the protection of rights. This may result in indirect pressure being placed on the judiciary. In 2007 the Home Secretary John Reid openly criticised the decision not to deport the murderer of head mast Philip Lawrence. Previous Home Secretaries have criticised the decisions releasing 9 Afghan hijackers in 2003 and for releasing terrorist suspects from Belmarsh prison in 2005. To conclude, the judiciary remains central to British politics and is vital if democracy is to be upheld. It is a powerful check on the executive for the reasons outlined in this essay, such as? It is a channel where the people are able to question the government and the reforms have made it even more powerful as a check on the executive. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United Kingdom section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United Kingdom essays

  1. To what extent are judges neutral and independent?

    80% of judges are male, 78% went to Oxford or Cambridge, and 70% are from private schools. Only 1% of High Court judges are from ethnic minorities. They almost all come from the middle or upper classes. This narrow social and professional background means that in cases involving lower classes, homosexuals (many conservative judges may secretly oppose homosexuality)

  2. Discuss the indepedence of the UK Judiciary

    Britain, in theory sticks to the idea of a separation of the judiciary from the other two branches of government. The rule of law is a legal term which means no one individual has immunity from the law. A.V. Dicey a marvellous constitutional expert, referred to the 'rule of law' as underpinning the British constitution.

  1. How effective is Parliament as a check on the executive?

    Backbenchers within the governing party will usually tow the lie. They rarely speak out, criticise or rebel against Government policy even if they disagree with it. They will still vote for legislation they disagree with. Conservative and Lib Dem MP's will support the coalition even if their proposal goes against their own beliefs.

  2. Evaluate the above statement and consider the extent to which you think it is ...

    the majority party, he does, this gives the House of Lords the potential to be a significant check on his power. However, the House of Lords has been subordinate to the House of Commons since early last century, and no longer retains its power of veto over proposed legislation.

  1. How effective is the House of Commons as a check on the executive?

    forty six Labour backbenchers voted against the government's controversial proposal to introduce single faith schools. In late 2004 ninety six Labour MPs voted against the government's introduction of top-up fees in universities in England in the second largest rebellion of Labours two terms.

  2. What is the main reason for the loss of faith and interest in our ...

    For example it is almost impossible to conclude anything from the answers to question 6, as only 6 people out of the 40 surveyed were eligible to answer it. Using more people would be a solution to this problem; however that would also have been remedied by using the internet

  1. Is There A Need For Constitutional Reform?

    Differences of opinion between the respective parts of the kingdom - starting with whether to lift the temporary ban on sales of beef on the bone in September 1999 but exemplified more clearly by Scotland's decision to ban hunting with hounds in 2002 - have helped to fuel claims that the United Kingdom is fragmenting.

  2. "Constitutional reform had gone too far, or not far enough?" Discuss

    This is a possible reason for Prime Minister, David Cameron, attempting to dictate the referendum concerning Scottish Independence. The formation of the Scottish Parliament-a result of devolution-has limited the power of the British government over subjects such as education and health in devolved areas.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work