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A brief Study On Constitutional Conventions

A significant number of important constitutional principles are not found in either statute or common law and are unwritten. They are called conventions.So, constitutional convention is a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. Two prominent examples of a constitutional convention are about the power exercised by the Monarch:

• the Monarch has the legal right to grant/refuse the Royal Assent; under convention exercises that right on the advice of Ministers; and

• the Monarch holds the legal right to appoint the Prime Minister, who under convention is the leader of the Party that holds the majority at a General Election and commands the confidence of the Commons.

Constitutional conventions are rules of political practice, which are regarded as binding by those to whom they apply. However, they are not laws, as they are not enforced by courts or by the Houses of Parliament. Often constitutional conventions are more important than written constitutional provisions.

Characteristics of the conventions

  • Defines non-legal rights, powers and obligations of office-holders in the branches of Government

  • Stated only in general terms

  • Distinguishable from rules of law

  • The most significant characteristic of constitutional conventions is that they are not legally binding.

Dicey stated that conventions may regulate conduct but ‘are not in reality laws at all since they are not enforced by the courts. However, the courts may recognize the existence of a convention when coming to judgment.

It is rarely the case that breach of a convention will have legal consequences: breaching a convention will most often result in political, not legal, consequences.Therefore, conventions are generally followed not because of legal consequences but because of political difficulties that may arise otherwise, if they were not followed.

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