This is consistent with the idea of the Rule of Law propounded by A.V. Dicey in his book "Introduction to the Study of Law of the Constitution" (1885). Dicey posited the following propositions. Firstly, no man could be punished or lawfully interfered with by the authorities except for breaches of law. In other words, all government actions must be authorised by law. Secondly, no man is above the law and everyone, regardless of rank, is subject to the ordinary laws of the land. Thirdly, there is no need for a bill of rights because the general principle of the constitution are the result of judicial decisions determining the rights of the private person.
This paper will address the question of whether or not the Rule of Law is still applicable in the United Kingdom, given the recently passed anti-terrorism legislation. The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in November of 2001, a mere two months after the historic 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. Criticized by many for the undue haste in its passage, with concerns of political pressure being raised, the law in its original form contained passages that human rights groups deemed to be violative of established human rights principles. Amidst the outrage surrounding the 911 attacks, the Anti-Terror Law was heralded as a measure to combat the worldwide phenomenon of terrorism and to arrest its spread and development. Legal scholars and free speech advocates, however, unite in condemning the law for trampling constitutionally-protected liberties. There is also the possibility that the law might give rise to or at least encourage racial profiling, particularly the provisions on proscription of terrorist organizations. It might further alienate minority groups and exacerbate the political violence by radicalizing "moderate" groups.
Human rights advocates scored a victory when the Law Lords ruled that a provision in the Law allowing the indefinite detention of foreign terrorist suspects was contrary to human rights principles. Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, in his ruling, said: "Indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial is anathema in any country which observes the rule of law." This decision was reached when nine detainees lodged their appeal before the Court. However, concerns on free speech and freedom of association still remain.
Notwithstanding these concerns, valid though that they may be, this paper will argue that the rule of law is still very much flourishing in the United Kingdom. While there are many reasons that could be cited, this paper will discuss a major development in