British Politics

Palgrave Foundations Series, second edition

by Robert Leach, Bill Coxall and Lynton Robins

Chapter 14 notes - The Law, Politics and the Judicial Process

Return to full list of chapter notes.
  • Britain has not in the past accepted the need for a strict separation of powers between legislature, executive and judiciary. Reforms initiated in 2003 and completed in 2009 involved the transfer of the House of Lords’ judicial functions to a new Supreme Court.
  • Judges remain unrepresentative of the communities they serve. They are predominantly elderly, white, male and come from an upper middle-class background.
  • While the image of the police in Britain has generally been positive, parts of the police force have been accused of racist, sexist and homophobic attitudes and behaviour, although efforts have been made to remedy this.
  • There is no clear coherent system of administrative law in Britain, although there are a number of channels for citizens wishing to make a complaint against government and public authorities, including the ordinary courts, tribunals, public inquiries and the ombudsman system.
  • Although Britain was an early signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, this was only incorporated into British law in 1998. This has implications for the constitutional principle of parliamentary sovereignty, even though this is formally maintained, as judges have not been given the power to strike out laws incompatible with ECHR.