What are the sources of the British Constitution?

Every country of the world has a constitution. So the UK also has a constitution. However, the British constitution is not written like othe...

UK constitutional Law,

Every country of the world has a constitution. So the UK also has a constitution. However, the British constitution is not written like other countries. Because, 
most elements of the British Constitution are unwritten.

Therefore, it can be said that the British Constitution has been developed like a common law for ages.

The sources of the British Constitution are discussed in detail below.

What are the sources of the British Constitution? 

The British Constitutional Law has been developed step by step for centuries in line with the hopes, aspirations and needs of the democratic people. So the British constitution is the mother of all constitutions in the world. The sources of this constitution are as follows:
  • Charters and Landmarks;
  • Statutes;
  • Common Law;
  • Judicial Decisions;
  • Conventions; and 
  • Text books.

Charters and Landmarks

Historical charters and various treaties are the sources of the British Constitution. There are a number of chartes and treaties in the UK constitution such as The Magna Carta of 1215, the Petition of Rights of 1826, the Bill of Rights of 189, the Act of Settlement of 1801, etc.


Statutory law is one of the sources of British constitutional law. At different times, the parliament has enacted laws that have paved the way for the constitution. In addition, Parliament has enacted many reforming laws regarding the powers and functions of the British government, election rules, functions of public servants, and so on. For instance, the Reform Act of 1832, 1867 and 1884, the Parliament Act of 1911 and 1949, the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 and 1816, the Westminster Act of 1931 and the Representation of the People's Act of 1949.

Common Law

Common law is the main source of the British constitution. This law has been developed naturally and spontaneously according to the needs and environment of the people for ages. Although these laws are not formally approved by Parliament, they are recognized and respected by the courts. Freedom of speech, individual liberty, right to justice by jury, special powers of king or queen, etc are included in the Common law. So Professor Jenning called them the main driving force of the Constitution.

Judicial Decisions

The judiciary has made a number of important decisions in its interpretation of customary law, laws enacted by Parliament, and various charters that have greatly influenced the British Constitution. The court's decision to resolve disputes with the government is also considered to be one of the sources of the British constitution. 

This is why Dicey called the British constitution as the constitution made by judges.


Constitutional convention occupy a significant place in the British Constitution. Professor Dicey called the customs, traditions, political customs and practices of the country as "the Conventions of the Constitution".

J. S. Mill refers to these as the unwritten maxims of the constitution, William Anson, as the customs of the constitution. Although these are not laws, they are obeyed as laws. For example, the ministerial relations with the king, the relations of the parliament with the ministers, the internal workings of the parliament, etc., are included in the constitutional conventions. Disobeying these does not mean being held accountable in court, but facing public criticism. 

Therefore, it can be said that all the customs that have been established regarding the system of governance have enlivened and enriched the British Constitution.

Text books

Books written by various jurists on constitutional law are also very important. These books play a significant role as authentic books. For example, Lasky: Parliamentary Government in England; Dicey: Law of the Constitution; Anson: Law and custom of the Constitution, and so on.

From the above discussion it appears that the source of the British Constitution is multiple and it is the integrated form of different currents.



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Money Gelt - Law news, insights and free legal advice!: What are the sources of the British Constitution?
What are the sources of the British Constitution?
Money Gelt - Law news, insights and free legal advice!
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