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English Law Research Guide

A guide to researching English law in the Tarlton Law Library.


The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy.  Unlike most modern democracies, the United Kingdom has no single document which comprises its Constitution.  Instead, the English constitution is largely made up of statutes, common law, and practice.  For this reason, it is often said that the UK has an "unwritten" constitution.  However, it is more accurate to say that the UK has an uncodified constitution.  English constitutional law concerns such issues as the role of the state and the protection of individual rights.  For further information on English constitutional law, see the books below.

Key Documents and Constitutional Powers of the Monarch

There are a number of key documents which, together, form the basis of UK constitutional law.  They are:

  • Acts of Parliament
  • Treaties
  • European Union Law
  • Common Law
  • Conventions
  • Royal Prerogative
  • Works of authority

The monarch also retains several key constitutional powers.  They are:

  • The power to appoint the Prime Minister
  • The power to dissolve Parliament
  • The power to dismiss the Government
  • The power to withhold royal assent to legislation passed by the Houses of Parliament