February 23, 2006

everything begins with the individual

seen on the EU Referendum blog's forum by SandyRham
The rule of law, as described in this treatise, remains to this day a distinctive characteristic of the English constitution. In England no man can be made to suffer punishment or to pay damages for any conduct not definitely forbidden by law; every man's legal rights or liabilities are almost invariably determined by the ordinary Courts of the realm, *and each man's individual rights are far less the result of our constitution than the basis on which that consitution is founded*.

It must, however, in fairness be noted that the invasion of the rule of law by imposing judicial functions upon officials is due, in part, to the whole current of legislative opinion in favour of extending the sphere of the State's authority. The inevitable result of thus immensely increasing the duties of the Government is that State officials must more and more undertake to manage a mass of public business, e.g., to give one example only, the public education of the majority of the citizens. But Courts are from the nature of things unsuited for the transaction of business. *The primary duty of a judge is to act in accordance with the strict rules of law. He must shun, above all things, any injustice to individuals.*

Written in 1914 by A.V. Dicey, whom the lawyers quote when they bang on about the 'Sovereignty of Parliamenmt'


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