Our Forgotten Constitutional Guardians: Preserving Respect for the Law

Brian Christopher Jones (Lead / Corresponding author)

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A focus on back-end constitutional actors remains the norm when we think of typical constitutional guardians. This piece challenges that perception, examining the uniquely situated UK constitution, with a focus on two significant front-end constitutional guardians: bill drafters within the Office of Parliamentary Counsel and senior clerks within the House of Commons. These two groups of actors provide a first—and in some cases possibly even the last—port of call for assessing the constitutionality of legislation. Yet after another period of constitutional change they appear to have been largely forgotten in the literature. This is unfortunate, as research interviews with both groups, and also with experts of the legislative process, demonstrate that these actors remain key players in the UK constitutional system. Furthermore, these two groups are essential to upholding our respect for the law, at a time when disenchantment for parliamentary democracy appears to be growing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalStatute Law Review
Issue number1
Early online date8 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • constitutional guardians
  • respect for law
  • legislative process
  • bill drafting
  • Parliamentary Counsel
  • House Authorities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Sociology and Political Science


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