What is the Rule of Law?
The rule of law is a principle of the UK constitution that means politicians govern within their powers, the law applies equally to all and that the law is certain.
Lord Bingham gave perhaps the clearest statement of these principles in his seminal work ;The Rule of Law' and identified eight principles to define it.
- 1. The law must be accessible, clear & predictable.
- 2. Questions of legal rights should be resolved by the law and not the exercise of discretion.
- 3. The law should apply equally to all, except where objective differences justify differentiation.
- 4. Ministers must act within their powers and not exceed their limits.
- 5. The law must afford adequate protection of fundamental human rights.
- 6. The law should provide access to justice, especially where people cannot resolve inter-personal disputes themselves.
- 7. Courts and tribunal processes should be fair.
- 8. The state should comply with international law.
By teaching students about politics, law and justice through a human rights lens, we enable them to become legally-enabled democratic citizens.
Professor Sir Jeffrey Jowell QC, Inaugural Director of the Bingham Centre, introduces the rule of law to school students below: