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Jack Simson Caird



Postgraduate Research Student

Thesis title:

'The Theory and Practice of Legislative Constitutional Interpretation in the United Kingdom'


Professor Andrew Le Sueur and Dr Mario Mendez


SOAS LLB (1st class honours) UCL LLM (distinction)


This PhD project analyses the theory and practice of legislative constitutional interpretation in the United Kingdom. Legislative constitutional interpretation refers to a practical political activity, whereby legislators articulate the meaning of constitutional norms during the legislative process. The role of constitutional norms in the legislative process has been scrutinised in the United States, however, outside of that context, little attention has been paid to how legislators should or do in reality interpret constitutional norms. In the United Kingdom, a consistent stream of constitutional reform since 1997 has raised questions over the constitutional role of the Parliament and parliamentarians. Do parliamentarians have a special responsibility to uphold constitutional norms? And if so, why? What role should constitutional norms play in the legislative process? How do parliamentarians currently use constitutional norms in the legislative process? These questions and others will be answered in this thesis through a combination of theoretical and practical research. The first part of the thesis focuses on theoretical questions. It attempts to define and debate the value of legislative constitutional interpretation in the United Kingdom. The aim of this part is to develop an understanding of the democratic potential of LCI in the United Kingdom. The second part of this study focuses on practical tasks, principally documenting LCI in the UK. Three ‘constitutional’ Bills from the Coalition Government’s first parliamentary session will be selected as case studies. Each bill will be subjected to the same method of analysis, a mixture of quantitative and qualitative techniques, in order to document and critically analyse the use of constitutional norms during the passage of the bill. Much of the analysis in this second part will rely upon the theoretical work of Part One, as it will test many of the hypothesises developed within it. This combination of both theoretical and practical analysis is one of the key features of this project. The relationship between the United Kingdom’s constitutional norms and its legislative process cannot be explained by simply looking at either current practice or theoretical debates alone, they are both needed to provide a more complete picture. Through this method this project aims to explain the nature of the special relationship between the rules that govern the law-making process in the United Kingdom and the process itself.


  • 'Parliamentary Constitutional Review: Ten Years of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution' [2012] 1 Public Law 4-11.
  • Constitutional Courts: A Comparative Study ? edited by Andrew Harding and Peter Leyland. (2011) Legal Studies, 31: 169?172 (book review)
  • 'The Role of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution in Enforcing the British Constitution' W G Hart Legal Workshop 2010 (conference paper)
  • Jack Simson Caird - Is Positive Discrimination a ‘Very Blunt Solution to a Complex Problem’, and Does it Fight ‘Unfairness with Unfairness’? 2009 1: 240-257 in UCL Human Rights Review Vol 2. Nov 2009.
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