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Constitutional/Administrative Law

Constitutional law in the UK

The UK does not have a constitution per se, certainly not in the same way that the US or Germany does. Instead we have a series of rules, guidelines, powers and laws which govern how the country is run and where power lies.

This area of law makes sure that that power is not abused and is used in an appropriate manner. Someone has to keep a check on the government and that is where constitutional law steps in.

So what kinds of topics does constitutional law cover?

This area of law is arguably the most important in existence; without it there could be no other laws and the state would not be able to function. It holds our country together.

Working in administrative or constitutional law means you will either be working for the state in the Government Legal Service (GLS), or in a private practice. Incidentally, the GLS is the largest employer of lawyers in the UK.

You will be working to ensure that government bodies and agencies are acting in the public interest. Therefore, you could be working alongside the NHS, your local council or the police. Sometimes the state does not work in the interests of the public, or works in contravention of its obligations under national and international law. For example, if a local councillor has ten parking permits and gives them all to his friends and family for no other reason than because he is related to them, then this is clearly unfair and this area of law can be used to make sure he does not abuse his or her position.

Similarly, if the police torture you while you are in custody, then there will have been a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights (Art. 3) and your action against the state will be pursued thanks to constitutional law.

How do I know if this is the right area of law for me?

The best way to figure out if this is the career path for you is to get some work experience under your belt.

If you would like to work in the public interest, either for the state or in a private practice against the state, constitutional & administrative law is a stimulating and exciting option.

You may be dealing with high-profile cases or smaller local issues, but either way you will have to deal with lots of paper work (the public sector is notorious for its bureaucracy/paper work) and have to keep up-to-date with constantly evolving case law.

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