The Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers by Jack Beatson - review by David Anderson

David Anderson

The Constitution and Where to Find It

The Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers

By

Hart 185pp £12.99 order from our bookshop
 

The cure for admiring the British constitution (as Walter Bagehot once said of the House of Lords) is to go and look at it. That is no easy task, since a skilled guide is needed even to identify, let alone comprehend, the ever-changing tangle of statutes, judgments, nostrums and conventions of which it is comprised. Few could be better qualified than the legal academic Jack Beatson, a lifelong observer in the constitutional arena and a Lord Justice of Appeal until his retirement in 2018. He describes the legal machinery that governs relations between Parliament, government and the courts, and examines how it has coped in recent years with issues ranging from devolution and Brexit to coronavirus restrictions, human rights and international law. Tautly structured, austerely written and meticulously referenced and indexed, this short book focuses on facts rather than opinions. But the evidence Beatson marshals – of constitutional strains unprecedented in modern times, a Parliament whose ‘sovereignty’ is increasingly controlled by the executive, and courts whose role in scrutinising the lawfulness of government conduct is highly contested – is sufficiently troubling to merit for his book a wider audience than the students, scholars and practitioners of law for whom

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