Chapter

United Kingdom

Stephen C. Neff

in International Law and Domestic Legal Systems

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199694907
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731914 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199694907.003.0026
United Kingdom

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In Britain, there is no written constitution. Moreover, regarding Britain as a whole, there are no legislative provisions or regulations that call for the application of international law, in a generic sense, in the national legal system. The United Kingdom is not a federal system, although powers have been devolved to Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. The basic arrangement in all three cases is that the central government in London can order officials of the devolved regions to take any steps that are necessary to give effect to ‘any international obligation’ of the United Kingdom, and conversely can forbid the devolved governments from taking any action that would be incompatible with the UK's international obligations. Norms of customary international law rank equally with other norms of British common law. This means that, in the event of a clash between them, the more recent in time prevails.

Keywords: British law; customary international law; national legal system; domestic law; treaty law

Chapter.  5505 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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