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What is meant by the rule of law

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Introduction

What is meant by the rule of law? The rule of law maybe defined in brief as a doctrine that no individual, however powerful is above the law. In principle Rule of Law had a significant influence on attempts to restrain the arbitrary use of power by rulers and the growth of legally enforced Human Rights in many western countries. It is often used as a justification for separately legislative from judicial power, this can be clearly seen within the government structure of the UK. The Government in the UK is highly centralised and carried out within a written state - Government power is not confined by a written constitution or bill of rights. ...read more.

Middle

Hearn's inspiration for his idea lay in the constitution conflicts of the 17th century. King James I claimed royal authority over the law despite much acknowledged advice to the contrary. Dicey's own reasons about the existence of the rule of law depended in large part on the work of Blackstone, Coke and Austin. Dicey recognised the difficulty of resolving the operation of constitutional conventions and the compatibility of parliamentary sovereignty with the rule of law. Dicey believed in the rule of law and the use of conventions as essential mechanisms against abuse, especially of discretionary power. Conventions recognised public "morality" which self-limited the power of Parliament. In the absence of any formal doctrine of separation of powers or a written constitution limiting the powers of the executive within the state, the rule of law provided a convenient means to express concern over the uncontrolled powers of a newly enfranchised parliament. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dicey in his studies gave three meanings for the rule of law to be considered as part of the constitution order of the UK. Primarily Dicey insisted on the predomination of ordinary law in that no man could be punished or lawfully interfered with by the authorities except for breach of law. In other words all government action must be authorised by law. Secondly, discretionary power however broadly based must not ba abused or used in an unrestricted way to circumvent the legislative authority of parliament. Again no man is above the law and everyone including parliament is subject to ordinary laws of the land. Thirdly Dicey believed that the enforcement of the principles of the rule of law was best achieved through ordinary courts and not as a part of a written constitution. ...read more.

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