Essay Aristotle: The Rule of Law

Essay Aristotle: The Rule of Law

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A. Explain what is meant by the concept of “the rule of law”
According to Aristotle, "The rule of law is better than that of any individual”, suggesting every member of society, even a ruler, must abide by and follow the law. The rule of law is linked to the principle of justice, meaning that everyone within a society (including both private citizens and government officials) are subject to the law, and that those laws are administered fairly and justly. The intention of the rule of law is to protect against arbitrary governance. It is the basic underpinning of a free society.
One of the features of the Australian constitution is that is it structured in a way that in theory reflects the rule of law. This doctrine, the separation of powers, doctrine is assumed to be a fair structure of government as its principles suggest that power does not lie with one branch, but is spread out amongst the three (legislative, executive and judicial.
In Australia, there is an overlap of the three branches and it is argued there is not significant distinction between the legislative and executive, consistent with British tradition. In the Constitution it does effectively unite the legislative and executive within the framework of responsible government as reflected in sections 44, 62 and 64. Section 64 specifically states that Ministers (executive) must sit in Parliament which represents a connection between these branches. A High Court decision in Victorian Stevedoring & General. Contracting Co Pty Ltd & Meakes v Dignan 1931 held that a strict division between these two levels was not practical. In contrast, the High Court is more definite in its separation and uphold a strict distinction with its judicial power. R v Kirby; Ex parte Boilermaker...

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...r Commonwealth Courts’, Papers on Parliament No. 48, viewed 30 March 2014,

Donoghue v Stevenson (1932) UKHL 100

High Court of Australia Act 1979 (Cth)

Judiciary Act 1903 (Cth)

Kirby, M. 1997, ‘Bill of Rights for Australia – But do we need it?’, viewed 30 March 2014, <>

Montesquieu, Baron de, 1748, ‘The Spirit of Laws [L'Esprit des Lois]’, Translated from the French by Nugent, T. 1752

R v Kirby; Ex parte Boilermakers Society of Australia (1955-56) 94 CLR 254

Victorian Stevedoring & General. Contracting Co Pty Ltd & Meakes v Dignan (1931) 46 CLR 73

Wallis v Downard-Pickford (North Queensland) Pty Ltd (1994) 68 ALJR

Waltons Stores (Interstate) Ltd v Maher (1988) 164 CLR 387, 62 ALJ 110

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