Understanding Public Law

Understanding Public Law

Understanding Public Law

Understanding Public Law


Public Law is concerned with the law governing the institutions of the state and the relationship between the state and the individual, and is a core subject for all students reading for a qualifying law degree. This concise, student-friendly guide will help equip students with an understanding of the key aspects of the UK's political and legal systems as well as building an understanding of the relationship between the different branches of the state such as the executive, legislature and judiciary.

Understanding Public Lawprovides a consideration of the main themes in a logical, progressive manner, highlighting the broader political and social contexts, and focusing on how and why the law has developed as it has.

Throughout the text, key terms are identified and explained from the outset, helping students new to the subject familiarize themselves with the vocabulary of public law; chapter outlines and summaries help to focus the reader on the key topics; and a set of self-test questions at the end of each chapter encourage students to consider and reflect on what has been learnt. Understanding Public Lawis the ideal introduction to this essential subject.


Understanding Public Law provides a concise introduction to and explanation of constitutional law and administrative law, which together make up Public Law. In addition to acting as a starting point for study, it is hoped that Understanding Public Law will p order to understand its substance, therefore, it is necessary to examine the many and various legal and non-legal rules and principles which together comprise the Constitution.

Understanding Public Law is divided into 15 chapters. The early chapters deal with the sources of the Constitution and the principles that form the foundation of the contemporary Constitution: the rule of law, separation of powers and supremacy of the United Kingdom Parliament. Of increasing importance is the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) and the manner in which EU law impacts on domestic law, which is discussed in Chapter 6. The structure and working of central, regional and local government is considered in Chapter 7, while Chapters 8 and 9 deal with electoral law and the role of the United Kingdom Parliament in law-making and scrutinising government policy and administration. Chapters 10 to 12 deal with civil liberties (freedom of expression and privacy; freedom of assembly), public order law and the protection of human rights. Chapters 13 and 14 discuss judicial review of administrative action and Commissioners for Administration (Ombudsmen). The final chapter offers a very brief history of the evolution of the British Constitution, which it is hoped will be helpful in understanding its gradual development over past centuries.

Hilaire Barnett May 2009 . . .

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