British Constitution and Human Rights

Status:Active, open to new members
Venue: Theatr Brycheiniog

The British Constitution and Human Rights Special Interest Group is co-ordinated by Robert East. Robert attended Brecon Boys Grammar School before going to Warwick University to study for his law degree and to Cardiff University to complete his postgraduate studies. He then spent over 30 years teaching law at what is now the University of South Wales, as well as a 12 month stint in Australia and seven years teaching at the Open University.

The first step is to gain a clear understanding of the key features of what is undoubtedly a ‘quirky’ constitution, which differs substantially from that of most other countries. This will provide the basis to consider the claim that it is ‘ramshackle’ and, consequently, in need of reform. Alternatively, there is the argument that the constitution and its informal arrangements work well, in providing flexibility that allows for practical solutions to constitutional issues without major political upheaval. The aim is, therefore, to consider some key elements of the constitution of the United Kingdom. Information introduced prior to the 2024 Summer Term can be found on our background reading page.

The meetings of the British Constitution and Human Rights Group during the 2024 Summer Term have taken place on:

2nd May at 2.30 in the Studio

This session took the opportunity to compare the legal system of England & Wales with its closest neighbours in Western Europe. While the features of the legal systems of most of the latter reflect that they were once part of the Roman Empire around 2,000 years ago, our legal system has been largely immune from Roman law influence, despite England & Wales spending a number of centuries under Roman rule. This has produced radical differences between the nature of our legal system and those continental legal systems. The session will examine, in particular, the main differences between our  ADVERSARIAL approach to the legal system and the INQUISITORIAL approach of our European neighbours and examine whether our system would benefit from some inquisitorial type reforms.

Further information can be found in the following link "Common law and civil law legal systems: adversarial versus inquisitorial approaches"

27th June at 2.30 in the Studio

The session on Thursday, 27 June was entitled The Constitution and the General Election. This session explored some important, yet little known, elements of the British Constitution that relate to General Elections, including the one held on 4 July. The session also explored some possible reforms to the constitution that might be implemented by a forthcoming Government. A set of PowerPoint slides that was used during the session can be viewed from this link.

You may also be interested in the slides used in the Spring Term session with the title: Does Prison Work