What is British Constitution, its nature, sources of British Constitution

Introduction to British Constitution:

Constitution of Great Britain is the set of laws and principles under which Great Britain is governed. British Constitution is based on two major principles. One principle is parliamentary supremacy and other principle is rule of law. Under British Constitution, Parliament is the supreme law-making body and everyone is equal before the law and no person is above the law.


(2) Nature of British Constitution:

The British Constitution started with a change from monarchical system to parliamentary democracy and it is still developing. Shortly speaking, it can be stated that British Constitution is continuously changing and growing: British Constitution is growing, developing and changing so as to meet the needs of the time. On the basis of its growth, change and development, it will not be wrong to mention that nature of British Constitution is organic and evolutionary.


 (3) Sources of British Constitution:

British constitution is un codified. This constitution cannot be found in a single written document. Therefore, British Constitution. Came from a variety of sources. Out of these sources, some are in written form and others are in unwritten form.

Followings are main sources of British Constitution:

  1. Historical Documents
  2. Acts of Parliament Statutes
  3. Judicial decisions or case law
  4. Common law
  5. Works of constitutional experts
  6. Conventions
  7. Treaties


(i) Historical Documents:

Some documents like Magna Carta, Petition of Rights and Bill of Rights are historically very important documents. These documents paved a way for transfer of authority from absolute monarchy to constitutional government. These documents are also considered as an important source of British Constitution. This source of British Constitution is in written form.

(ii) Acts of Parliament:

Much of British Constitution can be found in statue laws. Statute laws are those laws, which have been passed by Parliament. These statue laws are also called Acts of Parliament Acts of Parliament are considered as the most important sources of British Constitution. Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, Indian Independence Act of 1947 and Human Rights Act of 2000 are some of best examples of acts of Parliament. This source of British Constitution is in written form.

(iii) Judicial decisions or case law:

Judicial decisions or case laws through which courts of law decide constitutional matters are considered as a source of British Constitution. Usually such decisions explain and interpret rules and statules, which have been passed by British Parliament. This source of British Constitution is also in written form.

(iv) Common law:

Common law legal systems exist in Northern Ireland. England and Wales but not in Scotland, Common law is not only in written form, but it is considered as an important source of British Constitution.

(v) Work of Constitutional experts:

Work of constitutional experts like Dicey, May and Walter are considered as source of British Constitution. This source of British Constitution is also in written form.

 (vi) Conventions:

Many British constitutional conventions are ancient in origin. These conventions have enabled the British political system to adjust itself to the changing needs of the time. For British electorate and leadership really respect such These conventions are an important part of the constitution.. Therefore, these conventions are considered as an important source of British Constitution. However, these conventions are in unwritten form.

 (vii) Treaties

Usually treaties do not become part of British law. However, treaties are incorporated into British law by means of Acts of Parliament. Treaties have also played an important role in the development of British Constitution. For example, Treaty of Union of 1707 was important in creating the unitary state and this unitary state exists today in Great Britain.



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