2.2.1 Sources of the Constitution – Introduction
Welcome to the third lesson of the second topic in this module guide – Sources of the Constitution! With so many rules from a variety of sources, the UK constitution can be defined as uncodified. The absence of any formal codification makes ‘constitutional’ sources quite unclear. An important aspect in understanding the UK constitution is to understand how a variety of sources can be described as constitutional, in both the legal and non-legal sphere.
At the end of this section, you should be comfortable being able to outline the main sources of the UK constitution. This section begins by further elucidating the uncodified nature of this constitution and outlining the main sources. These sources are then elaborated upon, with a discussion of the constitutional nature of: Acts of parliament; the common law; European law; international law; and constitutional conventions. The discussion is then concluded with a brief look at the hierarchy of constitutional sources.
Goals for this section:
- To be able to outline both the legal and non-legal sources of the UK constitution.
- To understand how, in an uncodified constitution, a variety of sources can take on a constitutional dimension.
Objectives for this section:
- To understand how and which acts of parliament may assume a constitutional importance.
- To appreciate the ways in which common law principles become constitution, and how judicial precedent can affect this.
- To be able to explain how European and international law can affect the constitutional makeup of the UK.
- To appreciate which non-legal sources are constitutional, and in particular how constitutional conventions can provide rules which are not legally binding, but which still act as constraints.
- To appreciate the hierarch of constitutional sources.
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