Last week The Times reported that the UK Government seeks to implement a new law that allows it to overrule and reverse the decisions of the judiciary that it doesn’t like by way of an “annual review” of the courts’ decisions – the “Interpretation Bill”. The Bill would allow MPs to “strike out findings from judicial reviews with which the government does not agree.”
“Arguably, such a Bill would be a clear affront to fundamental constitutional principles governing the UK. The rule of law requires that no individual is above the law, including the legislature and the executive. Therefore, it is arguable that MPs being able to strike down judgments they do not like could be an infringement upon the rule of law as the legislature and executive should not have a say in the actions of the judiciary,” Durham Law Review wrote.
Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project said: “It is clear to me that the real aim of this government is a more compliant judiciary. It’s very important the government doesn’t do anything more to weaken the delicate constitutional balance we have. This executive can and does bully its MPs to get what it wants . . . All judges do is uphold the will of parliament.”
“Separation of powers” refers to the idea that the major institutions of state should be functionally independent and that no individual should have powers that span these offices. The principal institutions, or branches of government, are usually taken to be:
- the legislature
- the executive
- the judiciary
The legislature – the institution of Parliament: Crown; House of Commons; and House of Lords – makes laws. The executive – comprising the Crown and Government, including the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers – puts laws into effect.