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Title: The language of legislation and the politicisation of British judges
Author: Williams, Matthew
ISNI:       0000 0001 2441 9648
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Over the course of the 20th and 21st Centuries the judiciary have increasingly made decisions that have affected the substantive content and the procedural implementation of public policy. The aim of this thesis is to provide an explanation for this political behaviour in judges by introducing the Legislative Politicisation of the Judiciary Theory to the debate. The theory proposes that the key independent causal variable is the language of Parliamentary legislation. The argument is that as legislation has been increasingly used to delegate power from Parliament to its various agents, the language used has become more indeterminate in order to enable discretion. Such indeterminacy creates an institutional problem where the orders of the sovereign Parliament are not clear, and to resolve this uncertainty in the Rule of Law the judges must intervene. The political behaviour of judges is therefore stimulated by a change in the legislative supply-side rather than a change in the behavioural demand-side, and the judges are acting as professional technocrats charged with ensuring the efficacious implementation of Parliamentary legislation. A new discourse analysis methodology has been created for this thesis that provides evidence of change in the language of legislation between 1920 and 2010. A total of 8,328 sections of primary and secondary legislation have been hand-coded, with results showing that 3% of sections in 1920 (21 sections in real terms) were “Henry VIIIth clauses”, where power to make new law was delegated by Parliament; by 2010 this had increased to 16% (400 sections in real terms).
Supervisor: Robertson, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science ; Constitutional & administrative law ; politics ; law ; language ; judges ; constitution