CONSTITUTION UK

The UK Survives as a Country without a Constitution.

“What that doesn’t make sense. Isn’t it the UK that practically defined the whole concept of a Constitutional Monarchy?” is the most common response to this info.

Odd as it might sound, it is true that the UK is one of the very few nations on Earth that lacks a formal Constitution as a basis for its powers of governance. This fact often confuses visitors and students, and for those who wish to do business in the UK this is another strange cultural quirk that colors their expectations on the law and bureaucracy.

The UK is clearly a modern, developed country that until recently was pivotally located within the European federal framework, possessing far disproportionate power and influence to its geographic size and population. At no point in the past century has the lack of a formalized constitution been a hindrance to their governance, so how is it that they can do without this strongly defined legal foundation for their national identity?

Other Countries without a Constitution

But before we discuss how this works out in practice, here are the other nations that do not possess a formal constitution.

  • Israel
  • Saudi Arabia
  • New Zealand
  • Canada

There are literally only a handful of nations without a codified constitution. None of them can really be considered governmentally unstable states either. Israel has its Basic Laws as a general substitute for the spread of government activities, while Saudi Arabia’s monarchy bases their laws on Sharia Laws derived from the Quran. New Zealand and Canada have Constitution Acts that comprise a portion of their uncodified constitution and Acts of Parliament, treaties, orders, and court decisions to make up the difference. Of course, the interesting part of the latter two is how they define their constitutions as “similar in principle to the United Kingdom”.

But Why?

Unlike other nations that founded themselves based on principles laid out in their Constitution or overthrew their previous monarchs to set up a Republic, the UK’s constitutional powers evolved over centuries of compromise between the powers of the Monarchy and the House of Lords. Eventually this transitioned into the parliamentary system we use today.

There was never a drastic need to set out one big formal document detailing the powers, privileges and limits of the government because it was laid out across several other bodies of laws and customs.

The whole concept of a constitution, a charter, detailing the rights and obligations of a government was pioneered in these isles by the historic Magna Carta. However as times passed most of its provisions were repealed or its rights secured by other statutes, and the document holds little legal weight today. This is reflective of the fluid way the UK approaches the bonds of legalism from which is derived the protection of its citizens and the power of its government.

In certain ways, this approach makes it far easier to change the laws to be more responsive to the needs of the people. There is sometimes a distressing tendency not to treat constitutions as living documents that can be amended as the times change, but almost enshrined as unchanging holy writ from which derives all authority to act.

Flexibility of Bits and Pieces

So if not a Constitution where then does the UK derive its rule of state? The UK is simultaneously a monarchy and a representative democracy.

Though the Monarchy largely serves a ceremonial role at present, by law the executive power is vested from them to the Parliament. The 1689 Bill of Rights subordinates the authority of the Crown to the Parliament, one of the documents that among several others form the uncodified constitution of the UK, and an inspiration for the formation of other nations’ Constitutions later on.

Due to the evolutionary nature of British Law, the UK has something called the Parliamentary Supremacy, which grants it the certain qualities:

  • Parliament can make laws concerning anything,
  • No Parliament can bind a future parliament (that is, it cannot pass a law that cannot be changed or reversed by a future Parliament),
  • A valid Act of Parliament cannot be questioned by the court. Parliament is the supreme lawmaker.

“So the Parliament can’t be stopped by the courts? Isn’t that dangerous?” is the most common response from other nations that rely on the checks and balances between the judiciary, legislative and executive branches of government.

A common way to visualize the Parliament as the equal powers of the Crown, the House of the Commons and the House of Lords. In practice the bi-cameral (dual chamber) parliament plus the requisite monarchical ratification works out a comprehensive set of checks and balances that would otherwise have to be provided by a written constitution.

From Bill to Law and Partisan Bickering in Between

A major characteristic of the UK’s uncodified constitution is the meticulous process that a bill must go through before legal enactment.

Any bill must start at the House of Commons, the elected body of representatives whose Members of Parliament are empowered with legislative initiative. Known as the First Chamber, her legislation is proposed and debated before the final draft is submitted to the Second Chamber, the House of Lords.

This body is largely formed of appointees, and membership may pass from generations or new members proposed by the House of Commons. They no longer have the right to veto (since Parliamentary act of 1911) but only delay enactment of a bill or send back to the first chamber proposed changes to their bills.

While the unelected nature of a sizable legislative body may be disconcerting to someone not used to the parliamentary system, it is the function of the Upper Chamber made of appointees to consider public policies before they become Acts of Parliament and become law and to hold the government to account. They can take a longer view rather than the election-focused perspective of Members of Parliament. While the monarch has not used the power of veto for a very long time now, there still exists an important constitutional safeguard for the passing of laws.

This is in contrast to the sometimes acrimonious relationship between lawmaking bodies in other systems. It is true that there is still a lot of horrid politicking going on, and sometimes there are missteps in the direct way that the Parliament can propose binding conventions on national policy (the whole Brexit debacle), but rarely so how different branches can oppose each other based on partisan divisions.

Laws and the execution of laws are often challenged using being unconstitutional or not exactly forbidden by the constitution as a bludgeon. The Parliament is supposed to be a self-policing body, in a way that the Judiciary tends to serve in other systems. Because of this power to create and overturn any law that itself has made, the United Kingdom unlike most other European nations has been relatively inured to major (and sometimes bloody) social revolutions ever since the late 1600s.

It may not be readily apparent, but behind the scenes is often just as strict and detailed code of conduct that help to ensure the government runs smoothly day by day. Though there is not a single definitive document as a constitution to define the government, there are various codes and practices and layers of custom that help to curtail excesses of power.

Still Waters, Deep Currents

Though it is not so obvious on first glance, the UK constitution does exist in a very operative form. Centuries and a lot of blood was spilled to create this system that sharply restrained both the abusable powers of the monarchy and the temptation of narrow-minded populist desires.

Though lacking a single document, its different Bills and Acts of Parliament and other laws all combine to a system that has served to inspire the formation of many other democratic nations. It can be argued to have one of the oldest and most successful constitutions that has ever existed. One can be confident that it can continue to survive in this manner for quite a while longer using this irrepressible historical momentum of a tradition that demands an ability to change and adapt.

divorce UK

Adultery And Divorce: Why The Two Don’t Always Go Hand-In-Hand

A divorce can only be granted in England and Wales if saving a marriage is absolutely futile. In order to be granted a divorce, there must be one of five specific reasons that are set down by a divorce petition.

One of the five factors that can be used to grant a divorce is adultery. Unfortunately, it’s also the most common of the 5. According to a recent study, more than 50% of men and 26% of women in a marriage will have at least one affair during their marriages.

Recently, a client came to me, his wife was soliciting for a casual sex on the internet at a site that caters to illicit affairs for married people. Scanning the website was a stunning experience! There are literally hundreds of married people who are looking for out of marriage affairs with absolute strangers.

The potential for divorce when an unsuspecting spouse discovers their other half is looking for an affair and has incriminating evidence to that fact. As in the case of this client, that’s pretty substantial information but is it enough for the unsuspecting spouse to get a petition based on adultery?

In family law, this is a pretty straightforward area. That said, it can be a little confusing because most people think there’s more behind it then there really is. The fact of the matter is it’s much broader and complicated than one might think. In order to obtain a divorce on the basis of adultery, the offending partner must have already committed adultery. The Petitioner must state that he or she finds the action unbearable and does not wish to continue living with the offender.

There are several common misconceptions regarding adultery and divorce. There are many questions that people have on the subject. Hopefully, this article will clear the air a bit.

By UK Law,

“adultery is only relevant on the grounds for divorce where the act has actually taken place. If a sexual relationship is with someone of the same sex or the relationship is not sexual, it is not considered adultery.”

Here are some leading misconceptions regarding adultery…

Adultery covers any sexual activity

As stated above, adultery does not cover all sexual activities. If it is only sexual intercourse that takes place between a consenting man and woman who either one or both are married to someone else. Any other form of sexual satisfaction is not sufficient to prove adultery.

If you have already separated from your spouse

Only if your spouse has sexual intercourse with another party while you are still married is it deemed as adultery. That said, you can only file for divorce if you can prove that adultery has taken place and you find it unbearable to go on living with your spouse.

It is not adultery if you are already divorced

It is still adultery if the other party involved is still married to someone else, at the time. If a party was raped, under the age of 16 or consent was obtained by fraud, sexual intercourse under any of those circumstances is not adultery.

Another fact, if the other party is with a wife in a polygamous marriage, it’s not adultery as far as the spouse in the same marriage.

An extra-marital relationship between two people of the same sex

Again, adultery only applies when there has been sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Therefore, an extra-marital relationship between two people of the same sex is considered improper association but not adultery. If a spouse wishes to dissolve the marriage, they can instead file on the basis of unreasonable behaviour.

Adultery before the marriage is still adultery if found out about after the marriage

A spouse who was unfaithful before the marriage has not committed adultery. It will only be considered as adultery if the affair continues after the marriage.

You find it unbearable to continue living with your spouse, it must be linked to adultery

That is not necessarily true. If adultery was the final straw in the marriage or you are experiencing a history of unpleasant behavior, you can file for divorce using divorce solicitors.

You want to shame the other man or woman in the divorce petition

You may want to publicly shame the other party, but it is not a requirement for divorce nor recommended. If your spouse has admitted to adultery, there is no reason to name the other party unless you are looking for revenge. It might make you feel better but it could make a mess out of the divorce. Everyone could easily experience higher costs and you run the risk of gaining the judge’s disapproval. Let it go!

It’s my advice that you show dignity and instead concentrate on other issues such as your children and finances. You could seek costs in the divorce suit, though not finances or children, as they are separate. There are fees that you will be responsible for including the actual petition fee of £340, your attorney’s fees and an absolute fee for £40.

The third-party’s finances will pay off the other spouse

The fact is, that’s just never going to happen. There are circumstances where a partner’s new spouse has finances that could indirectly affect the ex-spouses finance before the divorce and to meet this person’s needs.

If you commit adultery the courts will be against you dealing with your finances & children

Again, this is not the case. Most marriages fall apart due to both parties. Adultery might happen during a failing marriage but it’s not generally the cause.

You can counterbalance the petition by filing a statement explaining the reasons why you think the marriage fell apart before the adultery took place.

Based on adultery, your petition for divorce will entitle you to a larger settlement

Wrong again! Adultery by itself is not regarded by the courts as conduct that would be inequitable to disregard. The case would depend on the details and the judge will retain a wide level of discretion in addressing it to arrive at what would be considered a fair conclusion.

That said, conduct that is referred to as “gross and obvious” would definitely affect the divorce settlement. For instance, there was a case when a wife continually stabbed her husband and left him incapacitated for life. That situation fell into gross and obvious and her entire settlement was reduced.

Keep in mind, after learning about adultery, you only have six months to file a divorce petition. Once the six months have elapsed, you cannot use adultery for your divorce. The courts will deem your actions as tolerating and condoning the conduct.

Think about this – divorce is not about putting individuals through trials and tribulations. It’s about drawing a line in the sand and allowing both parties to move on with their lives.

In my experience, I have never seen either party totally forgive the other, even years later. Chances are, they will remember what they forgave in court just to move on but never really did.

The IMF’s Concerns Regarding Household Debts In the UK

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization that advances financial stability and monetary help, internationally. It promotes international trade, employment, and economic growth. This organization is run by a 189 membership from different countries.

Lately, the IMF has announced a surge in household debt which could very well lead to a financial crisis worldwide. They have stated that this crisis could lead to a negative economic impact.

A recent report said “higher household debt is associated with a greater probability of a banking crisis, especially when debt is already high. A sudden economic shock, such as a decline in home prices could trigger a spiral of credit defaults and debt that shakes the foundations of the financial system.”

This warning from the IMF was first announced after discovering the rising debt that has incurred in the United Kingdom. Since 2007, the levels of household debt dropped in the UK from 150% to 130% but have since risen to 137% over the past few years.

The most recent figures coming from the Bank of England has discovered that British households have unsecured debts of approximately £203 billion from car loans, credit cards, overdrafts, and other types of loans. There is a rising concern that lenders in the UK could lose well over 30 billion due to borrowers who are in debt and having a hard time paying these loans back.

Economist Claudio Raddatz, from the IMF, stated: “Growing debt levels signal risks down the road”. Although some economists believe that extra spending can actually help the economy but over time, spending and debt will lead to risks in the economy.

Economist Nico Valckx of the IMF said “Debt greases the wheels of the economy. It allows individuals to make big investments today, like buying a house or going to college, by pledging some of their future earnings to pay the debt incurred. That’s all fine in theory. But as a global financial crisis showed, rapid growth in household debt, especially mortgages, can be dangerous”.

The IMF has continually warned lenders that the increase in spending and debt is getting well out of control. More households are heading into debt once again which is a reflection of past financial crisis.

They are afraid that lessons of the last financial crisis and the negative impact it had on the economy has obviously not been learned by spenders. Consumers must become more astute regarding their spending and borrowing habits. If households continue on this slippery slope, it will show that people just have not gotten the message.

The IMF’s latest concerns remain to be seen but the increase in household debt could lead to another crisis within the country.