1.1 A constitution is a set of rules
which may be written eg USA or
unwritten eg UK
1.2 It sets out the distribution of
power within the political system
1.3 It regulates the
1.4 It also defines the relationship
between the state and the individual
2.1 Statute Law
Act of Parliament
Enforceable in courts
Example: - Parliament Act 1911 and 1949
Takes precedence over all other sources BUT there are consequences of signing EC Act 1972
2.2 Common Law
Devlopment of laws through historical tradition and usage
enforced by judges (case law)
examples - original law on civil liberties. Most principles replaced by statutes.
Unwritten rules considered binding on all members of the political communityHowever not legally enforced, operate according to tradition and customRelate to exercise of powers by governmentExample: Fixed term Parliament
2.4 Royal Prerogative
Prerogative powers of the monarch = set of rules & privilages that in the past were performed by the monarch
By convention: - now performed by ministers, especially PM, in his or her name.
2.5 Works of Authority
Books by constitutional theorists - cited to establish appropriate procedures e.g Erskine May - Parliamentary practice
Constitutional theorists - have also established historical principles e.g. Blackstone - parliamentary sovereignty
2.6 Treaties and EU Law
EU law is binding on all members and takes precedent over domestic law
Britian also bound by EU treaties e.g. Amsterdam Treaty 1997
Judgements made in the European Court of Justice
3 Types of constitution
For example the USA – single authoritive document
Entrenched – difficult to change
Clearly outlined rules of Branches of Government
Judiciable – the judiciary may be needed to interpret the
meaning of the constitution
For example the UK – not authoritive – single tier legal
Not entrenched – easy to change – just needs to pass through legislature (Parliament)
Not judiciable – Supreme Court cannot change laws ratified by the legislature
In USA, constitutional amendments need:
2/3 majority – congress
Ratified by ¾ states
Supreme Court can affect the meaning of the constitution
through the law
The UK – it is easier to pass/ change laws through the
Example: the Human Rights Act 1998 – means UK constitution
stays up to date.
However some aspect of the constitution resistant to change – such as centralisation or government
Power/ sovereignty rests with UK parliament at Westminster.
Power may be handed down to devolved bodies but
in theory it can be taken back by Westminster.
Power/ sovereignty is spread out – the USA
States have their own constitution and laws.
The relationship between the federal government
& state is defined by the constitution
It can be a major issue because each state can differ
on laws on how peoples rights are protected.
3.7 Human Rights
Protects us from all authorities becoming over mighty
On 2 October 2000, the HRA has made rights from the ECHR came enforceable in our own courts.