Law and Politics

  • Robert Thomas


Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the relationship between law and politics in the British state is the marked separation between the two. Politicians do not wish to be seen to undermine respect for the law, and lawyers generally have little desire to interfere in the processes of political decision-making. This is largely the result of the unusual degree of continuity in British political institutions and the evolutionary character of the British constitutional tradition (see Chapter 2). While other states have experienced decisive breaks and have been compelled to redefine the relationship between law and politics, the British state has demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt in response to changing circumstances. This chapter will first examine the history of the relationship between law and politics and then consider the extent to which this relationship is challenged generally by recent trends such as the upsurge in the numbers of applications for judicial review of governmental decisions and the increasing impact of EC law and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), together with the Labour government’s programme of constitutional reform.


Judicial Review Constitutional Court British Court Constitutional Reform British Constitution 
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Guide to Further Reading

  1. On the dominant tradition and the impact of the growth of government see Loughlin (1992). The classic study of the politics of the judiciary is Griffith (1997). The traditional legal exposition of the English Constitution is given by Dicey (1959) and criticised by Robson (1951) and Jennings (1959). A specifically legal account of administrative law and judicial review is offered by Cane (1996) and a broader account is given by Harlow and Rawlings (1997). On the recent controversy over judicial review between politicians and judges see Rozenberg (1997). On EC law and policy see Weatherill (1995). On the European Convention of Human Rights see Jacobs and White (1996). On the attitudes of the British judiciary to the European Convention see Hunt (1997). On these issues generally see contributions to the journal Public Law.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert Thomas 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ManchesterUK

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