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The U.K Constitution

Jaba, 2008

Introduction:
Essentially, the constitutional structure reflects the socio-economic set up of the country. It is now understood by constitution jurists that the classification of a constitution is mainly based on the nature, location and historical evolution of the country. For instance, the UK with her an unwritten constitution reflects the evolutionary nature of laws and convention over centuries. While on the other hand the written constitutions are often the product of some dramatic political change, such as a revolution, for example, the United States.

The constitution of U.K is classified as unwritten, unitary and monarchy. It is classed as unwritten because [it] is embodied in multiple legal documents namely the Magna Carta of 1215, the Petition of Rights of 1628, the English Bill of Rights of 1689, and it encompasses also the entire body of laws enacted by the Parliament, Precedents established by British Courts of laws, and various traditions and customs. On other hand, it is classified as Unitary since UK comprises of Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland thus governed constitutionally as one single unit, with one constitutionally created legislature i.e., all power is top down [A unitary constitution recognises that sovereignty resides only in the centre of the state. In the UK, the constitutional doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty dictates that sovereignty is ultimately contained at the centre]. It is also view by scholars as a monarchy constitution because UK is headed by a Queen or King (refer Aristotle's classification).
  • Hints:
Make a general analysis as to the nature of the UK as a sovereign.
  • Talk about states that feature the UK (England, Wales, etc) and thus how it precipitated the adoption of the unitary constitution.
    i.e., (Try to answer; why UK's constitution is termed also as Unitary)
    NB: refer the attached Acts as to the unitary nature of the UK constitution.
Make a thorough outlook as to the documents culminating into UK's unwritten constitution.

  • Take an historical overview (nature) as to why UK's constitution is unwritten i.e., its evolution, flexibility, and dynamism.
    Look at the socio-economical dimensions prevailing in UK leading to adopt the said class or type of constitution. (Trace the justifications from the surrounds).
General approach:
Try to be critical especially by looking the pros and cons to the unwritten nature of the UK constitution as well as its 'unitary' aspect. (Refer the attached document for reference in ADOBE/PDF). Argue with reference to legal books, Laws and cases.
...............................................end...............................................

Abstracts of the tenable UK Acts (peruse the yellow-highlights)
Revised Statute from the UK;
  • Crown Proceedings Act 1947 (chap.44)
Section 40:
Savings

(1)Nothing in this Act shall apply to proceedings by or against, or authorize proceedings in tort to be brought against, His Majesty in His private capacity.
(2)Except as therein otherwise expressly provided, nothing in this Act shall:—
(a)affect the law relating to prize salvage, or apply to proceedings in causes or matters within the jurisdiction of the High Court as a prize court or to any criminal proceedings; or
(b)authorize proceedings to be taken against the Crown under or in accordance with this Act in respect of any alleged liability of the Crown arising otherwise than in respect of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom [F1or the Scottish Administration], or affect proceedings against the Crown in respect of any such alleged liability as aforesaid; or
(c) Affect any proceedings by the Crown otherwise than in right of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom [F1or the Scottish Administration]; or
(d)subject the Crown to any greater liabilities in respect of the acts or omissions of any independent contractor employed by the Crown than those to which the Crown would be subject in respect of such acts or omissions if it were a private person; or

Section 52: 
Extent of Act 

Subject to the provisions hereinafter contained with respect to Northern Ireland, this Act shall not affect the law enforced in courts elsewhere than in England and Scotland, or the procedure in any such courts.

  • Interpretation Act 1978, 1978 (chap. 30)

Section 5: Definitions
In any Act, unless the contrary intention appears, words and expressions listed in Schedule 1 to this Act are to be construed according to that Schedule.

SCHEDULES
Section5.
SCHEDULE 1: Words and Expressions Defined
Note: The years or dates which follow certain entries in this Schedule are relevant for the purposes of paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 (application to existing enactments).
Annotations:
Modifications etc. (not altering text)
C1Sch. 1 excluded in part (6.4.2003 with effect as mentioned in s. 723(1)) by Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (c. 1), s. 721(6)(b) (subject to Sch. 7)
Definitions
  • [F1"Act" means an Act of Parliament.]
  • "Associated state" means a territory maintaining a status of association with the United Kingdom in accordance with the M1West Indies Act 1967. [16th February 1967]
  • "Bank of England" means, as the context requires, the Governor and Company of the Bank of England or the bank of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England.
  • "Bank of Ireland" means, as the context requires, the Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland or the bank of the Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland.
  • "British Islands" means the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. [1889]
  • [ F2"British overseas territory" has the same meaning as in the British Nationality Act 1981;]
  • "British possession" means any part of Her Majesty's dominions outside the United Kingdom; and where parts of such dominions are under both a central and a local legislature, all parts under the central legislature are deemed, for the purposes of this definition, to be one British possession. [1889]
  • F3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  • "Building regulations", in relation to England and Wales, [ F4has the meaning given by section 122 of the Building Act 1984]
  • "Central funds", in an enactment providing in relation to England and Wales for the payment of costs out of central funds, means money provided by Parliament.
  • "Charity Commissioners" means the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales referred to in [ F5section 1 of the Charities Act 1993].
  • "Church Commissioners" mean the Commissioners constituted by the M2Church Commissioners Measure 1947.
  • [F6"Civil partnership" means a civil partnership which exists under or by virtue of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (and any reference to a civil partner is to be read accordingly).]
  • "Colonial legislature", and "legislature" in relation to a British possession, means the authority, other than the Parliament of the United Kingdom or Her Majesty in Council, competent to make laws for the possession. [1889]
  • "Colony" means any part of Her Majesty's dominions outside the British Islands except—
(a)
Countries having fully responsible status within the Commonwealth;
(b)
Territories for whose external relations a country other than the United Kingdom is responsible;
(c)
Associated states:
And where parts of such dominions are under both a central and a local legislature, all parts under the central legislature are deemed for the purposes of this definition to be one colony. [1889]
  • "Commencement", in relation to an Act or enactment, means the time when the Act or enactment comes into force.
  • "Committed for trial" means—
(a)
in relation to England and Wales, committed in custody or on bail by a magistrates' court pursuant to [ F7section 6 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980], or by any judge or other authority having power to do so, with a view to trial before a judge and jury; [1889]
(b)
in relation to Northern Ireland, committed in custody or on bail by a magistrates' court pursuant to [ F8Article 37 of the Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981], or by a court, judge, resident magistrate . . . F9 or other authority having power to do so, with a view to trial on indictment. [1st January 1979]
  • "The Communities", "the Treaties" or "the Community Treaties" and other expressions defined by section 1 of and Schedule 1 to the M3European Communities Act 1972 have the meanings prescribed by that Act.
  • "Comptroller and Auditor General" mean the Comptroller-General of the receipt and issue of Her Majesty's Exchequer and Auditor-General of Public Accounts appointed in pursuance of the M4Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1866.
  • "Consular officer" has the meaning assigned by Article 1 of the Vienna Convention set out in Schedule 1 to the M5Consular Relations Act 1968.
  • [ F10"The Corporation Tax Acts" means the enactments relating to the taxation of the income and chargeable gains of companies and of company distributions (including provisions relating to income tax);]
  • "County court" means—
(a)
In relation to England and Wales, a court held for a district under [F11the County Courts Act 1984]; [1846]
(b)
In relation to Northern Ireland, a court held for a division under the County Courts [ F12(Northern Ireland) Order 1980]. [1889]
  • "Court of Appeal" means—
(a)
In relation to England and Wales, Her Majesty's Court of Appeal in England;
(b)
In relation to Northern Ireland, Her Majesty's Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland
  • "Court of summary jurisdiction", "summary conviction" and "Summary Jurisdiction Acts", in relation to Northern Ireland, have the same meanings as in Measures of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Acts of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.
  • "Crown Court" means—
(a)
In relation to England and Wales, the Crown Court constituted by section 4 of the M6Crown Courts Act 1971;
(b)
In relation to Northern Ireland, the Crown Court constituted by section 4 of the M7Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978
  • "Crown Estate Commissioners" means the Commissioners referred to in section 1 of the M8Crown Estate Act 1961.
  • [F13"EEA agreement" means the agreement on the European Economic Area signed at Oporto on 2nd May 1992, together with the Protocol adjusting that Agreement signed at Brussels on 17th March 1993, as modified or supplemented from time to time. [The date of the coming into force of this paragraph.]
  • "EEA state", in relation to any time, means—
(a)
A state which at that time is a member State; or
(b)
Any other state which at that time is a party to the EEA agreement [The date of the coming into force of this paragraph]
  • [F14"Enactment" does not include an enactment comprised in, or in an instrument made under, an Act of the Scottish Parliament.]
  • "England" means, subject to any alteration of boundaries under Part IV of the M9Local Government Act 1972, the area consisting of the counties established by section 1 of that Act, Greater London and the Isles of Scilly. [1st April 1974].
  • "Financial year" means, in relation to matters relating to the Consolidated Fund, the National Loans Fund, or moneys provided by Parliament, or to the Exchequer or to central taxes or finance, the twelve months ending with 31st March. [1889]
  • "Governor-General" includes any person who for the time being has the powers of the Governor-General, and "Governor", in relation to any British possession, includes the officer for the time being administering the government of that possession. [1889]
  • [F15"Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs" has the meaning given by section 4 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005.]
  • "High Court" means—
(a)
in relation to England and Wales, Her Majesty's High Court of Justice in England;
(b)
in relation to Northern Ireland, Her Majesty's High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland.
  • [F16"The Immigration Acts" has the meaning given by section 64 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.]
  • "The Income Tax Acts" means all enactments relating to income tax, including any provisions of the Corporation Tax Acts which relate to income tax.
  • "Land" includes building and other structures, land covered with water, and any estate, interest, easement, servitude or right in or over land. [1st January 1979].
  • "Lands Clauses Acts" means—
(a)
In relation to England and Wales, the M10Lands Clauses Consolidation Act 1845 and the M11Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts Amendment Act 1860, and any Acts for the time being in force amending those Acts; [1889]
(b)
In relation to Scotland, the M12Lands Clauses Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1845 and the M13Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts Amendment Act 1860, and any Acts for the time being in force amending those Acts; [1889]
(c)
In relation to Northern Ireland, the enactments defined as such by section 46(1) of the M14Interpretation Act Northern Ireland) 1954. [1889]
  • "Local land charges register", in relation to England and Wales, means a register kept pursuant to section 3 of the M15Local Land Charges Act 1975, and "the appropriate local land charges register" has the meaning assigned by section 4 of that Act.
  • "London borough" means a borough described in Schedule 1 to the M16London Government Act 1963, "inner London borough" means one of the boroughs so described and numbered from 1 to 12 and "outer London borough" means one of the boroughs so described and numbered from 13 to 32, subject (in each case) to any alterations made under Part IV of the M17Local Government Act 1972 [ F17or Part II of the Local Government Act 1992].
  • "Lord Chancellor" means the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.
  • "Magistrates' court" has the meaning assigned to it—
(a)
in relation to England and Wales, by [ F18section 148 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980];
(b)
in relation to Northern Ireland, by [ F19Article 2(2) of the Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981].
  • "Month" means calendar month. [1850]
  • "National Debt Commissioners "means the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt.
  • "Northern Ireland legislation" has the meaning assigned by section 24(5) of this Act. [1st January 1979]
  • "Oath" and "affidavit" include affirmation and declaration, and "swear" includes affirm and declare.
  • [F20"Officer of Revenue and Customs" has the meaning given by section 2(1) of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005.]
  • "Ordnance Map" means a map made under powers conferred by the M18Ordnance Survey Act 1841 or the M19Boundary Survey (Ireland) Act 1854.
  • "Parliamentary Election" means the election of a Member to serve in Parliament for a constituency. [1889]
  • [F21"PAYE income" has the meaning given by section 683 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003.
  • "PAYE regulations" means regulations under section 684 of that Act.]
  • "Person" includes a body of persons corporate or unincorporate. [1889]
  • "Police area", "police authority" and other expressions relating to the police have the meaning or effect described—
(a)
in relation to England and Wales, by [ F22section 101(1) of the Police Act 1996];
(b)
in relation to Scotland, by sections 50 and 51(4) of the M20Police (Scotland) Act 1967.
  • [ F23"Police Service of Northern Ireland" and "Police Service of Northern Ireland Reserve" have the same meaning as in the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000;]
  • "The Privy Council" means the Lords and others of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council.
  • [ F24"Registered" in relation to nurses and midwives, means registered in the register maintained under article 5 of the Nurses and Midwives Order 2001 by virtue of qualifications in nursing or midwifery, as the case may be.]
  • [ F25"Registered medical practitioner" means a fully registered person within the meaning of the Medical Act 1983 who holds a licence to practise under that Act.]
  • "Rules of Court" in relation to any court means rules made by the authority having power to make rules or orders regulating the practice and procedure of that court, and in Scotland includes Acts of Adjournal and Acts of Sederunt; and the power of the authority to make rules of court (as above defined) includes power to make such rules for the purpose of any Act which directs or authorises anything to be done by rules of court. [1889]
  • "Secretary of State" means one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State.
  • [F26"Sent for trial" means, in relation to England and Wales, sent by a magistrates' court to the Crown Court for trial pursuant to section 51 or 51A of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.]
  • [ F27"Sewerage undertaker", in relation to England and Wales, shall be construed in accordance with [ F28section 6 of the Water Industry Act 1991].]
  • "Sheriff", in relation to Scotland, includes sheriff principal. [1889]
  • [ F29"The standard scale", with reference to a fine or penalty for an offence triable only summarily,—
(a)
In relation to England and Wales, has the meaning given by section 37 of the M21Criminal Justice Act 1982;
(b)
In relation to Scotland, has the meaning given by [ F30section 225(1) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995];
(c)
In relation to Northern Ireland, has the meaning given by Article 5 of the M22Fines and Penalties (Northern Ireland) Order 1984]
  • "Statutory declaration" means a declaration made by virtue of the M23Statutory Declarations Act 1835.
  • [ F31"Statutory maximum", with reference to a fine or penalty on summary conviction for an offence,—
(a)
In relation to England and Wales, means the prescribed sum within the meaning of section 32 of the M24Magistrates' Courts Act 1980;
(b)
In relation to Scotland, means the prescribed sum within the meaning of [ F32section 225(8) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995]; and
(c)
In relation to Northern Ireland, means the prescribed sum within the meaning of Article 4 of the Fines and Penalties (Northern Ireland) Order 1984.]
  • "Supreme Court" means—
(a)
In relation to England and Wales, the Court of Appeal and the High Court together with the Crown Court;
(b)
In relation to Northern Ireland, the Supreme Court of Judicature of Northern Ireland.
  • [F33"The Tax Acts" means the Income Tax Acts and the Corporation Tax Acts.]
  • "The Treasury" means the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury.
  • [F34"Trust of land" and "trustees of land", in relation to England and Wales, have the same meanings as in the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.]
  • "United Kingdom" means Great Britain and Northern Ireland. [12th April 1927]
  • [F35"Wales" means the combined area of the counties which were created by section 20 of the M25Local Government Act 1972, as originally enacted, but subject to any alteration made under section 73 of that Act (consequential alteration of boundary following alteration of watercourse).]
  • [ F36"Water undertaker", in relation to England and Wales, shall be construed in accordance with [ F28section 6 of the Water Industry Act 1991].]
  • "Writing" includes typing, printing, lithography, photography and other modes of representing or reproducing words in a visible form, and expressions referring to writing are construed accordingly………………….
QUOTES
  • "I used to listen careful all good advice and I go and do quite the opposite of what I have been advised; that is the secret of my success".
  • "You are the top most cream of the human resources of Tanzania. You will be the architects of the Tanzania of 21st century.........the acid test for you.....should not be that you are better than another Tanzanian/s but whether you are excellent according to a global norm....". (Prof. Matthew Luhanga's speech when I was joining UDSM, 'welcome 1st year', Sept., 2005).
............All the best............
© Jaba.

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Author: Jaba Shadrack
Jaba is a Law Lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, School of Law and a blogger based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Read More →

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