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

"While an unwritten constitution has the merit of flexibility, this flexibility is purchased at the expense of individual rights." - Discuss

Extracts from this document...


Question: "While an unwritten constitution has the merit of flexibility, this flexibility is purchased at the expense of individual rights." The United Kingdom has acquired for itself an unwritten constitution. The body of rules relating to the structure, functions and powers of the organ of state, their relationship to one another and to private citizens is to be derived from common law, statutes and constitutional conventions. It is therefore learnt that the English constitution does not impose limits on what may be done by ordinary legislation in the way that many other constitutions do. The constitution adapts for itself a flexible system of governing. The legislative competence of the Uk Parliament is unlimited and therefore the law states that no Parliament can bind its successors or be bound by its predecessors. It also states that the courts cannot question the validity of an Act of Parliament. Therefore, no formal mechanism exists ensuring that the rights of the minorities and individual citizens are not infringed by Parliament. ...read more.


The Labour government of the UK constitution promised a "Freedom of Information Act" which will lay out the scheme "Your Right to Know" on white paper thus representing a strong assult upon official secrecy allowing more rights to be extended to individuals. It could also be pointed out that the freedom of the media is in any event hampered by the laws of the libel, contempt, official secrets and particularly by the action for breach of confidence as seen in the case Attorney General v Newspaper Publishing plc (1987). The use of an interim injunction to preserve confidentiality combined with the extension of the law of contempt represented the most worry curb on the media's freedom. Traditionally,the operation of a free and diverse press has offered a further check to government power but without a Freedom of Information Act, the press is dependant on a system of official and unofficial "leaks". There is a "danger" that certain organs of the press will merely peddle up in different form to suit the different markets. ...read more.


This problem has however been addressed through the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998. Litigants will now be able to assert their convention rights against any public authority in any and every UK courts and tribunals. The HRA will make it unlawful for a public authority to do ant act which is incompatible with the convention rights, unless legislation unambiguously mandates or authorizes such actions. (Section6). All Legislation will have to be read so far as possible to compatible with the convention rights. There is no doubt that this act will therefore represent a very real and substantial limitation upon Executive (Parliamentary) action. In conclusion, while it may be argued that many of the traditional means of curbing government power and parliamentary sovereignty may seem ineffective in a flexible form of constitution like the UK, the Human Rights Act and the EC Act will likely constitute a new and powerful guarantee against an oppressive form of government where flexibility is "purchased" at the expense of individual rights. The objects to the un-entrenched British Constitution will however be practically evident only with a new constitution. ...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 Sources of Law 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 Sources of Law essays

  1. Should Britain have a codified constitution?

    For example you would have to have a two thirds majority in both houses or it would have to be passed by referendum. However I believe that this point does not have a sufficient amount of reason to be fully taken into consideration, in comparison one of the benefits of the current system is its flexibility.

  2. "In form, the Human Rights Act (HRA) is compatible with parliamentary sovereignty. In practice, ...

    Lord Woolf (2002) recognised that the HRA was criticised due to the suggestion that it interferes with the sovereignty of Parliament. But he commended the skilful way in which it has been crafted, for "it provides very substantial protection for human rights without undermining those fundamental constitutional principles".

  1. Can the Islamic approach to Human Rights be compatible withthe current International Human Rights ...

    in 1979 and it has been ratified by hundreds nations around the world. Almost all articles of the CEDAW, that contains thirty articles as well as the Universal Human Rights, seem much more to stand for preventing women suffering from the treating unequally in term of the distinction on the basis of s*x.

  2. How has the European Court of Human Rights contributed to the protection of children's ...

    1917 - state obligation to protect child from all forms of ill-treatment18 - and UN Committee observations is in Kilkelly's view evident of Court's dynamic approach19. Indeed, not only did the Court in Tyrer v. UK20, holding judicial punishment to be incompatible with Art.


    Due to a number of International human rights instruments, there have been many proposed list of cultural rights, but there is not one codified list agreed upon. By incorporating all the proposed cultural rights by the instruments discussed above, the list would consist of the right to cultural identity15, participation

  2. Are the Human Rights Act 1998 and the doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy compatible?

    Then, with the amendment of the Treaty on European Union 1992 (also referred to as the Maastricht Treaty) in 19974, the common goal of the two separate bodies of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights for the protection of fundamental rights was unified.

  1. Critically discuss the extent to which the fundamental rights provisions of the 1937 Constitution ...

    bodily integrity Freedom to travel Personal liberty Freedom of expression Freedom of assembly Freedom of association Religious liberty The rights of the family Property rights The right to earn a livelihood Inviolability of dwelling The right to fair procedures The right to privacy What is the deferent between the rights of citizens and the rights of non-citizens?

  2. Should people have a right to privacy?

    It was in the public domain. Even though all speeches are privileged, I did not have to make use of privilege? 20(Saner, 2011).May 28, 2011) which suggests that Hemming felt so intensely that he disregarded a court injunction and conversed about the case under the cover of parliamentary privilege, which media was then able to report.

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