All publicists distinguish between written and unwritten constitutions, although the distinction is somewhat superficial. A State is deemed to have a written constitution when the basic principles and institutions of its political organization are to be found in a document or a series of documents…
As we have already seen, the sources of the British Constitution are many and various, and may generally be grouped under four heads:
This distinction between written and unwritten constitutions has led to the establishment of a far more important classification of written and unwritten constitutions. The idea of permanency is closely associated with the concept of constitution so much so that stability is considered to be one of its main attributes. Written constitutions are considered to be more permanent and, therefore, more written, because, generally speaking, they cannot be amended except by a special process or by means of special machinery. Unwritten constitutions, on the other hand, are deemed to be unwritten because they can be amended or altered by the ordinary process of legislation. It should, however, be noted that the distinction between written and unwritten constitutions does not necessarily depend on the distinction between written and unwritten constitutions. A written constitution may be as unwritten as an unwritten constitution. A typical instance is furnished by the Italian Constitution of 1848 which, according to the generally accepted view, could be amended by the ordinary process of legislation. (Smith, 2001, 80)
The distinction between written and unwritten constitutions was pointed out for the first time by Bryce, and has now become a fundamental concept of constitutional law and practice. According to Bryce, there are two types of constitutions: those which have grown organically without any pattern either in their form or in their content and which consist of a variety of laws, conventions and customs. (Bogdanor, 1997, 351)
The second type is the result of systematic, exhaustive and conscious labour. The first type is derived from the same source as the ordinary laws and, consequently, may be abrogated or revised by the same organ and in the same manner as in the case of ordinary laws; and this he calls an unwritten constitution. On the other hand, a written constitution is derived from a source other than that of ordinary laws and is of a rank superior to that of ordinary laws. It can only be annulled or amended by the same organ which created it or some other organ to which its power has been delegated. In other words, a written constitution is one which demands for its amendment or revision special machinery or a special method. 1 It, therefore, occupies a privileged position and possesses a greater guarantee of permanence: a situation which French jurists have described as constitutional super-legality. In theory, therefore, inflexibility is the essence of this system. (Patterson, 1947, 135) A typical instance of a written constitution is furnished by the United States of America. Article 7 of the Constitution prescribes two different methods of amendment: (i) either two-thirds of both Houses of the Congress may propose amendments, or legislatures of two-thirds of the States may call a convention for proposing amendments, and (ii) the ...
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“Written and Unwritten Constitution Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1750 Words”, n.d. https://studentshare.net/politics/308935-written-and-unwritten-constitution.
Even in the case the country moves towards adopting a written constitution, there is an internal debate that what should be the nature of such an arrangement. A highly detailed and lengthy codified constitution may solve several legal issues, but it cannot fully reflect the people’s aspirations.
The author states that the important feature of the British constitution is that it has no written constitution, which lends flexibility and discretion to the judiciary in taking decisions. Parliamentary sovereignty is the main feature of British constitution. Though the constitution is unwritten in one single document, it is not entirely unwritten.
More importantly, rules and regulations are instituted for a sovereign to operate in an efficient and effective manner, otherwise anarchy or chaos would ensue. In this context that a state or sovereign whether large or small needs to have some fundamental organizing principles in order to run effectively.1 These sets of rules and regulations which command respect and compliance are embodied in written instruments but not necessarily a written constitution.
Politics form governments elected legitimately by the public and require the citizens to follow their decisions. Political systems in a country are responsible for international and domestic environments that encompass the economy, culture, society, and diplomatic communications with outside states.
Thomas Paine said:
“[A] constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government, and a government without a constitution is power without right….a constitution is a thing antecedent to a government; and a government is only the creature of a constitution”.
In that case, the Parliament of the United Kingdom can perform constitutional reform by only passing Acts of Parliament and therefore has the power to change or abolish any written or unwritten parts of the Constitution.
Thus the British constitution can be contrasted with other constitutions like the Constitution of the United States of America. (Barendt, 1997) Brazier (2001) has for instance stated that:
"A British citizen has to seek the rules of the constitution in a daunting number of places - legislation, judicial decisions, statements about constitutional conventions, the law and practice of Parliament, European Community law, and so on." (p.3)
Almost all modern States have written constitutions, the only exception being the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland where the fundamental political principles and institutions are not to be found in any formally accepted document or documents.
The British constitution is the set of governing laws and principles in the United Kingdom. This constitution is unlike many of those found in modern day states. It is not a written or codified constitution; it
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