Abstract

The U.K. is an outlier in comparative terms in having experienced no litigation about the division of powers following the introduction of devolution in 1998. Conventional wisdom ascribes this to the coincidence of Labour-led governments in London, Scotland, and Wales. But other factors are also at work, which are informative about the flexible nature of the British constitution and the British approach to devolution. These include the continuing sovereignty of the U.K. Parliament, the limited extent of devolution in the U.K., elaborate checks to ensure devolved legislation remains within competence, and adjustment mechanisms built into the original devolution settlement. The absence of litigation has obvious advantages, but also disadvantages, in that the interpretation of the division of powers under devolution remains secret law.

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