Prof. Jeff King (UCL) to present a seminar entitled The Social Dimension of the Rule of Law

Thursday, April 27th at 1pm - Harty Boardroom

Title: The Social Dimension of the Rule of Law

Speaker: Jeff King is Professor of Law at University College London He is the Co-Editor of Current Legal Problems, the Co-Editor of the UK Constitutional Law Blog, and the Treasurer of the UK Constitutional Law Association. He was an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation visiting fellow at the Humboldt University of Berlin in 2014-2015.

Abstract: The core idea at the centre of this theoretical, historical and comparative paper is that the rule of law idea ought to be understood as necessitating an active state engaged in social protection, rather than a restrained state that can only act pursuant to clear rules announced beforehand.  Rejecting the narrow liberal and liberal egalitarian ‘formal’ versions, the author argues that (1) the rule of law idea reflects a protective function for the state (as evident in the old ‘law and order’ notion of the rule of law), (2) the protection owed includes not only protection from private uses of coercion but also social protection, and (3) social protection is defined as a duty to eliminate interpersonal exploitation. The work grows out of a study of the German ‘social state principle’ and the background idea of a ‘social rule of law state’ (soziale Rechtsstaat), conducted during a research stay in Berlin in 2014-15.


Prof. Gavin Phillipson to present a seminar entitled Miller in the Supreme Court: How we realised (or not) how far EU law has changed the constitution

Thursday, April 27th at 3pm - Harty Boardroom

Title:Miller in the Supreme Court: how we realised (or not) how far EU law has changed the constitution’

Speaker: Gavin Phillipson has held a Chair in Law at Durham University since 2007. He has published widely in the fields of public law and human rights in top UK, Canadian and US law journals, including Modern Law Review, Cambridge LJ, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Public Law, McGill LJ and Law & Contemporary Problems. His article on Miller in the November 2016 issue of Modern Law Review was cited to the High Court during the hearing (day 2) and included in the bundle for that hearing and in the bundle for the Supreme Court. It was extensively cited by Lord Carnwarth in the judgment. His blogpost was read and used by counsel in preparing their arguments for the appeal and included by them in the bundle for the Supreme Court.

The Miller Article 50 case, which went to the UK Supreme Court last year, confronted fundamental questions about the limits of executive power, the character of EU law in national law and the role of courts in determining such questions. It not only raised key questions around separation of powers - the interaction of executive and legislative power as policed by the judiciary – but ended up hinging on a much broader issue – the role of EU law in national constitutions orders, a role strongly contested as either transforming, or as tightly controlled by, the domestic order.

Miller - a case that attracted unprecedented political and media attention around the world - was also remarkable in that it divided the public law academy more than the judiciary.  Considered a radical judgment by its critics, and as grounded in four hundred years of constitutional orthodoxy by its supporters, the case starkly revealed prominent fault-lines between competing visions of power within the UK constitution that arguably go back to the Civil War. But it was also the case, more than in any other in the UK, that was shaped by academics, over eight months of active blogging, article-writing and speaking, including in particular those on this panel.   

In this paper, Gavin Phillipson will confront criticisms of the majority judgment, arguing that, doctrinally, it better reflects the role the key incorporating statute – the European Communities Act 1972 – gives Parliament in relation to changes to the EU Treaties, as opposed to EU legislation. More broadly he will contend that the much-praised minority judgment of Lord Reed (which draws on the view of Mark Elliott and John Finnis in particular) is highly formalist, narrowly-focused and fails to appreciate the sui generis nature and significance of EU law as a set of EU-sourced, but domesticated rights, powers and obligations. He will contend that Lord Reed’s insistence on the complete control of EU law by national law is divorced from reality and fails to pay proper regard to the re-shaping of the British constitutional order that was accomplished by and during British membership of the EU. In contrast, he will explain how the majority’s recognition of this point was crucial in their decision that the Crown’s residual prerogative powers could not be used to bring about a change of the constitutional magnitude that Brexit would entail. 


John O'Dowd's blog feature posted on UCL website

John's blog post on government formation for University College London's (UCL) The Constitution Unit has been posted. The Constitution Unit in the Department of Political Science at UCL is the UK's leading research body on constitutional change.

The formation of Ireland’s new government following February’s general election took more than two months. In this post John O’Dowd discusses the reasons for the delay, the role played by the President and the agreement that was eventually reached to allow Enda Kenny to be reappointed as Taoiseach at the head of a minority government.

Click here to read the full blog feature.

‌‌The Constitution Unit

Rights-Based Constitutional Review

Rights-Based Constitutional Review Cover

Dr Marie-Luce Paris' most recent publication is a book co-edited with Professor John Bell from Cambridge University.

Constitutional review has become an essential feature of modern liberal democratic constitutionalism. In
particular, constitutional review in the context of rights litigation has proved to be most challenging for the courts.
By offering in-depth analyses on changes affecting constitutional design and constitutional adjudication, while
also engaging with general theories of comparative constitutionalism, this book seeks to provide a heightened
understanding of the constitutional and political responses to the issue of adaptability and endurance of rightsbased
constitutional review. Providing structured analyses the editors combine studies of common law and civil
law jurisdictions, centralized and decentralized systems of constitutional review, and large and small jurisdictions.

For more information, please click on the here: Rights-Based Constitutional Review.



Constitutional Studies Group publish Election 2016 booklets

Research - Signposts 

With the run up to the Election, please click the links to see our booklets on:

Government formation in Ireland and the Law on Election Posters.