The Rule of Law

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The rule of law is a difficult concept to grasp and proves elusive to substantive definition. However, the following work considers the attempts of various social and legal theorists to define the concept and pertinent authorities are considered. Attitudes and emphasis as to the exact shape, form and content of the rule of law differ quite widely depending on the socio-political perspective and views of respective commentators (Slapper and Kelly, 2009, p16), although there are common themes that are almost universally adopted. The conclusions to this work endeavour to consolidate thinking on the rule of law in order to address the question posed in the title, which is at first sight a deceptively simple one. The rule of law Modern legislation places the ‘rule of law’ firmly at the heart of the English legal system. The Constitutional Reform Act 2005, for example, states in section 1 that the Act does not adversely affect ‘the existing constitutional principle of the rule of law’. Moreover, the oath required to be taken by the Lord Chancellor, as specified in section 17(1) of the 2005 Act, pledges that the rule of law will be respected alongside defence of the independence of the judiciary. Unhelpfully perhaps, at least in the context of the question posed in the title to this work, the 2005 Act does not provide a definition of the concept of the rule of law. As Lord Bingham observed in a 2006 lecture, the draughtsmen of the 2005 Act seemingly acknowledged the difficulty of establishing an accurate, comprehensive and succinct definition appropriate for incorporation in the statute, and so left the job of definition to the judiciary in their subsequent interpretation and application of the Act (Bingham, 2006, Sixth Sir Dav... ... middle of paper ... ...yranny begins.” (Locke, 1690). This Lockean stance emphasises the importance of the rule of law as a golden precept and inviolable principle that controls the way in which a State’s power is exercised over its citizens or subjects. BIBLIOGRAPHY Constitutional Reform Act 2005 Dicey A.V., An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, (1885) Locke, J., The Second Treatise of Civil Government, (1690) Hayek F.A., The Road to Serfdom, (1994) University of Chicago Press Lord Bingham of Cornhill, ‘The Rule of Law’, November 2006, Sixth Sir David Williams Lecture, Centre for Public Law, University of Cambridge Raz J., ‘The Rule of Law and its virtue’, (1977) 93 LQR 195 Slapper G. & Kelly D., The English Legal System (2009) Routledge Cavendish Thompson E.P. (Thompson D. (ed)), The Essential EP Thompson, (2001) The New Press

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