Rule Of Law Essay

The rule of law as formulated by Raz adds little to a modern democracy as it could apply to both democratic and non-democratic states. The substantive rule of law is unworkable in a system such as exists in the United Kingdom, where the legislature is legally sovereign. Indeed, as both versions of the rule of law have been and could be ignored by the legislature, it is pointless to take the rule of law seriously as a feature of the United Kingdom’s constitution.

Discuss the above statement and outline whether you agree or disagree with this. You must support your answer with reference to academic and judicial opinion, as well as developing your own argument.

There is great difficulty in defining the rule of law despite its unprecedented significance; however, simply in the words of TRS Allan it is ‘a corpus of basic principles and values, which together lend some stability and coherence to the legal order’. Raz and AV Dicey discuss the characteristics of what the law should be in their formal (procedural) definitions, whilst Fuller examines the content and morality of legislature. This essay aims to scrutinise both perspectives whilst questioning the possibility of the rule of law to co-exist in a legally sovereign and or democratic and non-democratic states today.

Many argue that the rule of law is outdated and inapplicable to the modern world today. However, Raz’s first principles: ‘laws should be prospective, open, clear’ and ‘relatively stable’, these are reflected by the United Kingdom’s partly written constitution as parliament is able to amend or implement laws to reflect the evolution of society into modernity. The changes are infrequent and gradual to allow stability and adaption to new views. An example is the C...

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...espassing. This validates some aspects of Dicey and Raz’s theory on the rule of law, as government official are prohibited from doing anything that isn’t written in statute to avoid the misuse of their power.

In conclusion, taking into consideration the perspectives on the rule of law, there are obvious limitations when applying them to modern democracies. The importance of the rule of law is undermined when a state is legally sovereign as the rule of power will always be supreme. Raz’s principles have proven to have limitations such as he fails to mention the protection of human rights; however, many of his principles are still current in modern democracies and easily applicable. The substantive definition of the rule of law is better suited as it goes further than the formal rule of law by examining the actual substance of the law instead of just its functions.
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