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Accountability in the Contemporary Constitution$
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Nicholas Bamforth and Peter Leyland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199670024

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199670024.001.0001

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Parliamentary Accountability and the Judicial System

Parliamentary Accountability and the Judicial System

Chapter:
(p.200) 9 Parliamentary Accountability and the Judicial System
Source:
Accountability in the Contemporary Constitution
Author(s):

Andrew Le Sueur

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199670024.003.0009

Orthodox constitutional thinking suggests that scrutiny of judicial decisions by parliamentarians would be inconsistent with judicial independence, and that ministers (in particular the Lord Chancellor) should be answerable to Parliament for operational aspects of the judicial system. Significant changes to the reach of judicial power into public policy (through judicial review, the Human Rights Act 1998 and European Union law) and radical restructuring of the basic constitutional architecture of the judicial system (by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005) call into question the suitability of the orthodox model of independence and accountability for the twenty-first century. Analysis of the parliamentary record demonstrates that parliamentarians can, and do, scrutinize a wide spectrum of decision-making by judges. The cordon sanitaire around judges has been lifted and more nuanced but still uncertain understandings of how to achieve parliamentary accountability while preserving judicial independence are emerging.

Keywords:   UKParliament, accountability, judicial decisions, judicial independence, ministers, judicial system, public policy, judges

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