Irina Bogdanovskaya 1
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

Classification of Constitutions of Common Law Countries

2012. No. 1. P. 80–90 [issue contents]

Bogdanoskaya Irina - Professor, Department of Theory of Law and Comparative Law, Na­tional Research University Higher School of Economics, Doctor of Juridical Sciences. Address: 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation. E-mail: ibogdanovskaya@hse.ru.

The current legal doctrine recognizes several reasons for classifying constitutions. One of them is the division of constitutions into written and unwritten. However, this reason is becoming obsolete. At the same time, the analysis of the constitutions functioning in the common law countries shows the relevance of the classification. Among the examples, the oldest constitution – in the US, the constitution compiled of acts in Canada, unwritten constitutions in the UK and New Zealand. The constitutions of common law countries are characterized with the balance of written and unwritten laws with a prevalence of the former one. Another aspect of the problem relates to the role of unwritten constitutions in the system of the sources of law. Constitutions are defined as the supreme law of a country. However, this definition is likely to recognize constitution as a source of law than determining its role in the system of such sources. The influence of the British principle of parliamentary rule on the role of constitution in the system of sources is significant. All the statutes are equal and can not have a higher or lower legal force. Recognizing constitution as having the supreme legal force will inevitably lead to the rejection of the principle and redrafting British constitutional law doctrine. The constitutions of common law countries have common and special features. Specific features of the constitutions allow arranging special groups. The constitutions of common law countries are evolving but unlike the countries of Roman and German laws, the evolution is represented with constitutional amendments. A significant role is played by cases interpreting old or unwritten constitutions enabling to adapt the constitutional provisions to the changing social environment. Case law provides for updating constitutions. However, constitutional reforms in certain common law countries pose a problem of changing traditional approaches and developing new doctrinal principles.

Citation: Bogdanovskaya I. (2012) Klassifikatsiya konstitutsiy stran «obshchego prava» [Classification of Constitutions of Common Law Countries]. Pravo. Zhurnal Vysshey shkoly ekonomiki, no 1, pp. 80-90. (in Russian)
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