Where is Great Britain's constitution located?I thought Great Britain doesn't have constitution

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You are right -- Great Britain does not have a constitution.  At least, it does not have a written one the way that the United States does.  When people refer to the British constitution, they are referring to a set of unwritten principles.

The word "constitution" in the political sense just means the set of laws by which a country's government and political structure are set up and run.  The US happens to have this written out, Britain does not.  This does not mean that Britain has no constitution, though.  It has a set of rules that control its politics.  These rules come from sources dating all the way back to the Magna Carta.  However, the rules are not all written down in one official document.


geocas eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It should also be pointed out that one aspect of the unwritten Constitution of Great Britain is that the British government is guided by common law, which is based on the body of court cases and judges' decisions developed throughout that nation's history. Judges look at precedent, using the legal concept of "stare decisis," Latin for "let the decision stand." The United States also follows these concepts, but we have the written constitution and its amendments to act as a more specific guide for the Courts and for the elected branches of government.

ukprof | Student

The United Kingdom does have a constitution, arguably the oldest in continuous use of any country. However, it is almost unique as it is un-codified and only part-written. This means that it isn't in one single document like the US Consitution, and much of it is from unwritten sources. The UK constituion is drawn from four principle areas:

1. Statute Legislation - laws passed by the British Parliament. Any law passed in the UK becomes part of the 'constituion', and any government can therefore change the Constituion multiple times. Good examples of major consitutional change include the Human Rights Act (1998) and the Lords Reform Act (1999).

2. EU law - as the UK is a member of the EU, laws passed by Brussels become part of the UK Constituion.

3. Common law - jugdements made in British courts effect the law, as they do in any country, especially cases of judicial review. Common law relies heavily on precendent - cases that have gone before.

4. Academics - writers on the UK Constituion have influenced its development. For instance, Waler Bagehot wrote extensiely on the constitution, and although he was not in a position of authority to change the constitution, the way he percieved it influences opinion today. There are other examples.

This makes the UK Constitution fluid, and less objective, in comparison to many other, more rigid constitutions. Also, the country should (technically) be referred to as the United Kingdom or Britain.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Constitution written document or statement and formally accepted by a process of law as outlining the agreed basic principles for governing the affairs of a country or some other organization. When applied to the countries, it constitutes the basic law, to which all other laws of the country must conform.

Constitutions of countries may written or unwritten.  The British constitution is an unwritten constitution which has developed over a long period as actual practices followed, rather than by purposeful formulation and acceptance of a formal document.  It consists of tradition and custom relating to various matters such as the powers of the monarch, parliament, and the courts.  Many aspects of the British constitution are drawn from written documents such as the Magna Carta, but it has never been written out in a single document. Though the British constitution did not originate as a formal document prepared and accepted as constitution, the British Parliament can and does formally modify the constitution from time to time as required.

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