Uncodified constitution is a form of constitution where fundamental government rules take precedent, usage and customs form as well a range legal instruments and statutes. The constitution is understood through the judiciary, legal experts and government committees reading commentary. In this type of constitution system, all elements are recognized by government legislators, bureaucracy and courts as binding upon government limits its powers. Such framework is also known as “unwritten constitution” though this is not 100% accurate. This is because uncodified constitution elements are written down in various official documents but not codified in one single document.
There are several advantages associated with uncodified constitution such as adaptability, resilience as well as adaptability. A new situation or condition of government for instance can be solved by passing legislation or precedent. No unique procedures are required in order to make constitutional law and it is not essentially superior to other existing legislation. Countries with this form of constitution lack a particular moment where its government’s principles were decided deliberately. Rather, the principles evolve according to the social and political forces arising throughout history.
The major disadvantage of an uncodified constitution is the fact controversies might arise as a result of varying understandings of the customs and usages forming the basic provisions of the constitution.
Examples of states with a codified constitution
Some of the states with this type of constitution are as highlighted below:
- New Zealand
- UK-The country does not have any defining document that can be referred to as ‘the constitution’. The political system in UK evolved with time and was not changed by an event like a revolution therefore it is continuously defined by decisions of Law courts and parliament.
- Saudi Arabia-The only source that is quoted to provide basic law is the Quran.
While in Canada there is a constitution act, important aspects of the country’s constitutional system still remain uncodified. The constitution preamble states the constitution should be ‘similar in principle to that of the UK’ which is not codified. This is applicable at the provinces and federal level though they both have power to enact their own or alternatively make modifications within their exclusive responsibility areas.
Former uncodified constitution examples
- The Roman republic was comprised of 12 Tables as well as other statues
- In Hungary from 1949, the constitution was uncodified.
- The Grand Principality of Finland’s constitution was uncodified and it did not specifically recognize emperor of Russia from 1809 through to 1917.
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