Handbook on the Rule of Law
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Handbook on the Rule of Law

Edited by Christopher May and Adam Winchester

The discussion of the norm of the rule of law has broken out of the confines of jurisprudence and is of growing interest to many non-legal researchers. A range of issues are explored in this volume that will help non-specialists with an interest in the rule of law develop a nuanced understanding of its character and political implications. It is explicitly aimed at those who know the rule of law is important and while having little legal background, would like to know more about the norm.
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Chapter 9: Minimising Magna Carta and modernising exposition of the rule of law in the English historical constitution

J.W.F Allison

Abstract

Dicey’s view of the English constitution as historical was traditional, but he promoted, and imported to that constitution, a history that was comparative, critical and modernist. His promotion of history as comparison affected his treatment of Magna Carta and his view of its importance to the rule of law. Provisions of Magna Carta provisions are compared and contrasted with Dicey’s exposition of the rule of law to explain his disdain for Magna Carta’s importance, to show the extent to which his exposition of the rule of law marked its modernisation in the English historical constitution, and to illustrate Diceyan history as comparison. The historical comparison serves as an illustration with which to consider the value of history as comparison – for Dicey in his treatment of Magna Carta and for normative interpretivists in drawing upon his rule of law.

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