The UK Constitution is rightly deemed an unconventional, uncodified constitution that is a pragmatic product of experience and experiment.
Central to the UK Constitution is the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy which endows the UK Parliament an overweening supremacy above all other governmental institutions including the executive and the judiciary. As defined by Albert Dicey, it is a doctrine wherein the Parliament has "the right to make or unmake any law whatever and further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament."3 Parliament is not bound by its predecessor. In other words, it confers upon the Parliament the title "Supreme Lawmaker" by which the notion of judicial review does not apply. Thus, no court is allowed to question the validity of an Act of Parliament. Moreover, the
Parliament's legislative competence is rendered unlimited and by ordinary Act of Parliament it is empowered to alter any aspect of the existing Constitution. This doctrine had been questioned but was upheld in the Madzimbamuto case with finality, holding that if Parliament chose to enact a law that is improper or immoral, "the court will not hold the Act of Parliament invalid".4 This doctrine had also been lambasted by such judges as Lord Chief Justice Woolf on the ground that it causes the British courts to become a weakened judiciary, stripped of the power of judicial review and the power to interpret civil rights implications while the Parliament is free to enact any legislation that it desires.5
It is a reality though, that the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy was threatened and suffered an erosion when UK decided to become a member of the European Union in 1972 and had to accede to European laws and the principle of the supremacy of European union law. The case Costa v ENEL was like a Sword of Damocles hanging on the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy as it held that "laws of member states that conflict with EU laws must be disapplied by member states courts" and that "Community law would prevail over both subsequent and previous domestic law"6. Cases like Pickstone v Freemans7 and Litster8 forced the House of Lords to adopt an interpretation that would avoid a conflict between domestic law and the EC law9. The case Macarthy's v Smith emphasised that "it is our bounden duty to give priority to Community law"10 while the Factortame case stressed that it is the duty of the national court "to
give effect to it (Community law) in all circumstances.11 Because the EC laws give overweening importance to human rights, UK was compelled to enact the Human Rights Act 1998.
Prior to the Human Rights Act 1998, which Act of Parliament received Royal Assent on 9 November 1998 and which took effect on 2