Uncodified constitution

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An uncodified constitution is a type of constitution where the fundamental rules often take the form of customs, usage, precedent and a variety of statutes and legal instruments.[1] An understanding of the constitution is obtained through reading commentary by the judiciary, government committees or legal experts. In such a constitutional system, all these elements may be (or may not be) recognized by courts, legislators and the bureaucracy as binding upon government and limiting its powers. Such a framework is sometimes imprecisely called an "unwritten constitution"; however, all the elements of an uncodified constitution are typically written down in a variety of official documents, though not codified in a single document.

An uncodified constitution has the advantages of elasticity, adaptability and resilience. A significant disadvantage, however, is that controversies may arise due to different understandings of the usages and customs which form the fundamental provisions of the constitution.[1]

A new condition or situation of government may be resolved by precedent or passing legislation.[1] Unlike a codified constitution, there are no special procedures for making a constitutional law and it will not be inherently superior to other legislation. A country with an uncodified constitution lacks a specific moment where the principles of its government were deliberately decided. Instead, these are allowed to evolve according to the political and social forces arising throughout its history.[2]

When viewed as a whole system, the difference between a codified and uncodified constitution is one of degree. Any codified constitution will be overlaid with supplementary legislation and customary practice after a period of time.[1]

Current examples[edit]

The following states can be considered to have an uncodified constitution:

Uncodified elements[edit]

Former examples[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Johari, J. C. (2006) New Comparative Government, Lotus Press, New Delhi, p. 167–169
  2. ^ Prabir Kumar De (2011) Comparative Politics, Dorling Kindersley, p. 59
  3. ^ Champion, Daryl (2003). The paradoxical kingdom: Saudi Arabia and the momentum of reform. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-85065-668-5. 
  4. ^ Robbers, Gerhard (2007). Encyclopedia of world constitutions. 2. p. 791. ISBN 0-8160-6078-9. 
  5. ^ a b "Constitution Act", retrieved 2012-03-25
  6. ^ "Ontario (Attorney General) v. OPSEU, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 2"