The Nature of the Crown: A Legal and Political Analysis

By Maurice Sunkin; Sebastian Payne | Go to book overview

11
The Crown and its Employees

ROBERT WATT*


INTRODUCTION

The title of this chapter may be viewed as provocative or as begging the question. The law in this area is generally regarded as the law of Crown Service,1 yet the title may suggest that the subjects of inquiry have become invested with a set of rights and duties identical or similar to those possessed by private employees. So to suggest is not the intention, for it is plain that Crown servants do not have any such rights at common law. I shall illustrate this by means of a brief discussion of some leading cases. I shall argue that the lack of protection at common law is generally of little practical moment because the common law of the employment relationship has been extensively overlaid with statutory regulation. I am going to argue that the working life of the Crown servant has become legally regulated in a fashion, variously identical, similar or analogous to the working life of the ordinary employee. I seek to excuse the inelegant syntax of the preceding sentence by pointing out that Crown servants fall into at least three classes. I identify these as civil servants, military servants and 'ministers'. The category of ministers includes political ministers, the judiciary and police officers. The relationship between the terms and conditions of work of Crown servants and those of private employees depends upon the precise nature of the service rendered to the Crown.

Clearly, my project is undertaken in the hope that something of the nature of the Crown will be revealed as I proceed. I do not think that it is helpful to leave this to the end as some sort of denouement. Therefore, almost from the outset, I must make clear my view that the Crown is no more than a cypher for the supreme effective political executive within the British State. My reasons for adopting this view are set out in this chapter.

____________________
*
This chapter is dedicated to the memory of my parents, Peter and Margaret Watt, who died during the preparation of the manuscript.
1
See, for example, H. W. R. Wade & C. F. Forsyth Administrative Law ( Oxford: Clarendon, 7th edn., 1994).

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