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Parliamentary Sovereignty
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Book description

This book has four main themes: (1) a criticism of 'common law constitutionalism', the theory that Parliament's authority is conferred by, and therefore is or can be made subordinate to, judge-made common law; (2) an analysis of Parliament's ability to abdicate, limit or regulate the exercise of its own authority, including a revision of Dicey's conception of sovereignty, a repudiation of the doctrine of implied repeal and the proposal of a novel theory of 'manner and form' requirements for law-making; (3) an examination of the relationship between parliamentary sovereignty and statutory interpretation, defending the reality of legislative intentions, and their indispensability to sensible interpretation and respect for parliamentary sovereignty; and (4) an assessment of the compatibility of parliamentary sovereignty with recent constitutional developments, including the expansion of judicial review of administrative action, the Human Rights and European Communities Acts and the growing recognition of 'constitutional principles' and 'constitutional statutes'.


'Professor Goldsworthy’s thoughts on sovereignty are always challenging and important, often combative, and rarely easy to dismiss. It is extremely useful for those interested in the area to have his views in one volume … There is a great deal to be admired in Parliamentary Sovereignty … [which] is another important contribution by … Goldsworthy to a topic which is returning to the front line of constitutional debate … [He] is deservedly one of the most well known of those representing a coherent, historical and democracy-based argument for parliamentary sovereignty in its classical form. His new book is an important contribution to an important contemporary debate. It presents a real and continuing challenge to the idea that common law constitutionalism is the new orthodoxy, and for that both supporters and opponents should be grateful.'

C. J. S. Knight Source: Law Quarterly Review

'Jeffrey Goldsworthy is the pre-eminent modern defender of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. His book, The Sovereignty of Parliament: History and Philosophy, was a profound exploration of that doctrine, and was described by the late Lord Bingham as ‘magisterial’. A new collection of essays, Parliamentary Sovereignty: Contemporary Debates, seeks to further and in some cases modify the argument of the earlier book, and to reply to critics … Taken together the two books constitute a remarkable achievement. Indeed, no books on constitutional law so aroused my interest since I first read Dicey’s Law of the Constitution …'

Vernon Bogdanor Source: Oxford Journal of Legal Studies

'[T]he leading proponent of parliamentary sovereignty, Jeffrey Goldsworthy … is attentive to the importance of historical context for understanding the theory and practice of law … [His] strategy in this respect works brilliantly … by the time [he] turns his attention to the specific contemporary debates … he has already established an impressive theoretical foundation upon which he can work. He is thus in a position to address a variety of contemporary issues with power, precision, and brevity, offering insights from the rich account of history and theory developed through the earlier chapters. The result is a distinctive contribution to the literature in this field …'

Mark D. Walters Source: Public Law

'[A] detailed and comprehensive endeavour to explain the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty and its main implications … a welcome addition to the existing literature … Goldsworthy’s discussion of this topic is both well covered, interestingly presented and rich with arguments … On the whole, the author’s thorough research and his critical analysis of the mentioned topics is what makes Parliamentary Sovereignty an instructive, thought-provoking and interesting read.'

Tina Orsolic Source: European Constitutional Law Review

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