Cambridge Sixth Form Law Conference talk: The UK’s (unusual) constitution

This post is aimed mainly at those who attended my recent talk at the Cambridge Sixth Form Law Conference on “The UK’s (unusual) constitution”. The talk’s point of departure was Lord Neuberger’s recent (and surprising) suggestion that the UK has no constitution. I argued that this goes too far, but that the UK’s constitution is certainly unusual. Using the status of human rights generally, and the prisoner-voting case as a particular example, I explained that the UK’s constitution is unusual both because it is “unwritten” (in the sense that there is no single text that we regard as “The Constitution”) and “flat” (in the sense that the status of constitutional law is not hierarchically-superior to other, regular law). I went on to explain, however, that to approach such matters only through the domestic legal prism of parliamentary sovereignty may be misleading, and that other considerations – including the constraining forces of politics and of international law – must be factored in if we are accurately to understand the nature of the modern British constitution. 

I have uploaded the slides that accompanied my talk to Scribd:


If you want to do some further reading, here are some suggestions. First, you might like to read chapter one – which can be accessed free-of-charge online – of the soon-to-be-published second edition of Elliott & Thomas, Public Law (OUP 2014). You might also want to read the following posts on this blog which touch on themes that were addressed in the lecture:

Finally, here are links to the main sources I referred to in my lecture:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s