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Bok Course: The UK Constitution (Bamforth)
Fall 2019   LAW 547-002  

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Meeting Times/Location
TWR 1:30PM - 2:50PM
Golkin Hall 238
This course meets during a special session:
(11/04/19 - 11/22/19)

Nicholas Bamforth

Bok Visiting International Professor

Additional Information
Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement




Bok Course: The UK Constitution, the Westminster Parliament, and Brexit (Bamforth)

Nineteenth-century theorist A.V. Dicey defined the central feature of the UK constitution as being that “Parliament … has … the right to make or unmake any law whatever; and, further, that no person or body is recognised … as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament”. US-style judicial review was thus precluded. This approach – regularly applied in British courts before the UK joined the European Union – was widely held to have been threatened by EU membership, a perception which seemingly contributed to the case for Brexit during the 2016 referendum. In reality, though, the constitutional position has always been more complex. Many would argue that the Westminster Parliament’s legal power in fact depends upon the collaboration of the courts, and there have been cases (not involving EU law) in which courts have effectively ignored aspects of legislation.

This background uncertainty makes the legal position surrounding Brexit even less clear than it might otherwise have been. This course examines how the legal roles of the Westminster Parliament and the courts can best be categorised, providing a basis for exploring the likely constitutional implications of Brexit. While focusing mainly on the UK constitution, the course will include comparisons with other jurisdictions and may also be of interest to those who wish to consider the relationship between courts and legislatures more generally, including normative arguments for and against judicial review of legislation.

Note: because this class meets for only three weeks (11/4 – 11/22) students must add/drop the class by the second meeting.

Nicholas Bamforth is a member of the Law faculty at Oxford University, and a Fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford. His teaching and research lie in the areas of constitutional law, administrative law and human rights law (in all cases both domestic and comparative). He is co-editor, with Peter Leyland, of two widely-cited sets of essays on UK constitutional law: Public Law in a Multi-layered Constitution (Hart/Bloomsbury, 2003) and Accountability in the Contemporary Constitution (Oxford UP, 2013).

Course Concentrations

International and Comparative Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of international and comparative law, both substantively and procedurally; Perform legal analysis in the context of international and comparative law; Communicate effectively on topics related to international and comparative law; Demonstrate an understanding of the role of international and comparative law, and their interconnection with domestic law.

Perspectives on the Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of how the law affects, and is affected by, the individual course topic; Perform legal analysis in the context of the individual course topic; Communicate effectively on the legal and other aspects of the individual course topic; Demonstrate the ability to use other disciplines to analyze legal issues relevant to the individual course topic, including economics, philosophy, and sociology, as appropriate.