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Title: The role of the courts in modern British government
Author: Morales, Cecile E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 3668
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2014
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The role of the judiciary in British government has given rise to considerable controversy. Commentators disagree on two important questions, one empirical, the other normative. The empirical question relates to what judges do, and the normative one concerns what judges should - or should not - do. Although these two questions are logically independent of each other, in practice empirical assessments of the judiciary are often laden with normative assumptions and preferences. As a result, the debate surrounding the modern British judiciary is highly polarised. In the light of this debate, a comprehensive account of the courts' contemporary role is urgently needed. To that end, this thesis addresses the following question: to what extent do judges voluntarily intervene in the conduct of British government? In answering this question, I provide an empirical analysis of what I term the courts' autonomous governmental role - that is to say, judges' propensity to develop and expand - or indeed restrict - the scope and depth of their interventions in relation to other governmental institutions. In order to study the role that the courts choose to play in the British political system today, I analyse public law decisions, lectures given by senior judges and interview data. The argument presented in this thesis is threefold. First, judicial powers - whether granted by Parliament or developed by the judges themselves at common law - should not be confused with what judges actually do. Powers only become effective if the judges are willing to make use of them. Second, the courts' degree of involvement in the political system is not uniform: judges are more assertive in some areas than in others and these differences can be only identified by means of an in-depth study of the judicial process. Third, far from being power hungry, as they are sometimes portrayed, judges exercise a considerable degree of restraint in their judgements.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available