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The Shibboleth of Sovereignty




Seminar Series: Constitutional Law

Guest Speaker: Professor Martin Loughlin, Professor of Public Law, LSE Law Department

Sovereignty is the central tenet of modern British constitutional thought but its meaning remains misunderstood. Although lawyers treat it as a precise legal concept – the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty – they commonly fail to acknowledge that that doctrine is erected on a skewed sense of what sovereignty entails. In particular, they do not see that the legal doctrine rests on a particular political conviction, that the coherence of the British state is maintained only through the existence of a central authority equipped with an unlimited power. These two facets of sovereignty – the legal doctrine and its underlying political conviction – have become so deeply intertwined in legal consciousness that they now cannot easily be unravelled. This becomes the main barrier to thinking constructively about Britain’s constitutional arrangements.

In this presentation I will seek to substantiate this argument. I do so by explaining how the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty came into being, demonstrating how the legal doctrine is tied to a deeper political conviction, showing that the political underpinnings of the doctrine have been considerably weakened over the last century and more, and indicating how a re-working of the meaning of sovereignty is the precondition of constitutional renewal.

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When and where

6.00pm - 8.00pmWednesday 31st October 2018

AG07b College Building City, University of London St John Street London EC1V 4PB United Kingdom

Contact Details

CLS Research Events

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom
0207 040 3410

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