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UK's unwritten or codified Constitution


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individual historical treaties or declarations , for example: Magna Carta (1215) The basis of rights to equal and fair treatment under the law for all citizens (the king must follow the law, a person can not be punished for a crime unless lawfully convicted and women and children who inherited property are guaranteed their right. Petition of Rights (1628) No taxation without the consent of Parliament, no imprisonment without cause. Habeas Corpus Act (1679) A prisoner has to be presented in court and the arrester must prove that there is proper cause for detaining the prisoner. Bill of Rights (1689) The King rules by approval of Parliament and not by Divine Right. First, Second and Third Reform Bills of 1932, 1867, 1884 Extension of franchise to men in the upper and lower middle class and the working class. Equal Franchise Act (1928) Men and women over 21 can vote.

Historic treaties or law

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Acts of Parliament: It is a new law or a law that changes an existing law. It is a bill that has been approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and been given Royal Assent by the Monarch. All together they make up what is known as Statute Law in the UK. Examples of constitutional statutes include the Bill of Rights 1689, Acts of Union 1707 and 1800, Act of Settlement 1701, Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, Human Rights Act 1998, Scotland Act, Northern Ireland Act and Government of Wales Act 1998.

Statute Law

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A system based on precedents or judge-made case law, Common Law ‘fills the gaps’ in Statute Law, and is is inferior to Statute Law. For example, the U.K. has long had a common-law offense of "outraging public decency." In the last decade, the authorities have used this ancient common law to prosecute a new intrusive activity called upskirting: the practice of sticking a camera in between a person's legs, without their consent or knowledge, to take a photo or video of their private parts for sexual gratification or to humiliate or distress. In February 2019, the U.K. Parliament passed the Voyeurism (Offences) Act that officially makes upskirting a crime, punishable by up to two years in prison and the possibility of placing a convicted individual on the sex offenders register.

Common Law or Case Law

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These are principles and practices of government that aren’t legally binding but have the force of law. They are established through protocol and codes of behaviour and procedures that are followed and adhered to. e.g. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party (or coalition of parties) that has the majority of seats in the parliament. The Monarch grants Royal Assent to all legislation. The House of Lords should not reject a budget passed by the House of Commons.

Constitutional Conventions

Adoption of European Law

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Adoption of European Law. For example, the European Communities Act 1972 and the Human Rights Act 1998