For an “outsider” studying English law, there’s probably no topic more difficult than the UK Constitution.
Because this country’s never had a historical event which resulted in the breakdown of the previous system of government (apart from a couple of blips in the 1600s), there’s never been a pressing need for framers to set out a statement of intent in the form of a written constitution. That’s not to say there isn’t a UK Constitution, it’s just not written in one single document.
That’s also not to say that there isn’t a separation of powers in the UK’s Constitution. Whereas in the USA there are three “separate but equal” branches of Government, in the UK, Parliament is supreme and highest court in the land sits in the House of Lords. It may be a “weak” separation, but it works.
That’s all changing – the new UK Supreme Court is replacing the House of Lords committee as the highest court in the land.
While most LL.B. students might think it’s a bit early in the academic year to be worrying about Public law revision, I’m betting this topic might just feature, in one way or another, on final Constitutional law exam essays:
Will Tony Blair’s 2003 tinkering have the unintended consequence of shifting power from Parliament to the Judiciary? Should judges be given (or take – al la Marbury v Madison) even more power to “make law” ?