What are the sources of the UK constitution?
There are five principal sources of the British constitution: Statute Law, Common Law, Conventions, Authoritative Works and European law.
Statute Law is created by parliament. In the legislative process, Acts of Parliament have to be approached by the House of Commons, The House of Lords and the monarch before they are placed on the statute book. They are then implemented by the executive and enforced by the courts. Statute Law is the most important source of the principles and rules making up the British constitution because parliament is the sovereign body. An example of Statute law include: The Parliament Act (1911), which established the House of Commons as the dominant chamber of parliament. More recent example is The Human Rights Act (1998), which enshrined key rights in UK law.
Secondly there is Common Law, Common law includes legal principles that have been developed and applied by UK courts. The courts interpret and clarify the law where there is no clear statute law. Common law takes legal precedent made by judges, for example, the right of homeowners to tackle intruders who enter their property. Government ministers may clarify or amend common law trough Acts of Parliament. The common law also includes customs and precedents that have become accepted practice. They relate to the role of the monarchy, parliament and the executive. Particularly important is the royal prerogative – the powers exercised in the name of the Crown. The Crowns prerogative powers include the right to: Declare war, dissolve parliament and appoint judges. Government ministers exercise prerogative powers in the name of the crown. It is the prime minister who declares war, decides the date of general election and appoints government ministers and judges. The prime minister will inform the monarch of his or her decision, but the monarch has no real power to veto prime ministers’ actions or dissuade them from their chosen course....