Chapter 1 Guidance to answering the end-of-chapter questions

What is Public Law?

1. Draft a brief definition of the term ‘constitutional law’ and one for ‘administrative law’.

  • Think about the areas of law that fall under these terms. Is one broader than the other?
  • In what ways are the two terms related? Can one exist without the other?
  • If you need to jog your memory, look back to pp. 6–7.

2. Make a list of areas of public law with which you think you have come into contact.

  • Think about the purpose of ‘public law’. What sorts of things come under that term?
  • Think of public law in contrast with private law. Private law regulates the relationship between individuals, while public law regulates the relationship between individuals and the state. Can you think of examples of laws that regulate the relationship between an individual and the state? For example, what kinds of laws exist that prevent a state actor from torturing you? Or, what kinds of laws exist that determine what money you might be entitled to if you cannot get a job?
  • If you need help, look back to Figure 1.2 on p. 8.

3. What are the key principles of public law and how do these link together?

  • Remember that the key principles can also be thought of as the main theories of public law.
  • One key principle describes the assumption that the law will be respected and that any individual or official may be brought before the court if there is evidence that he or she has broken the law. Can you remember what that is called?
  • Another key principle is that Parliament has the supreme power to make, amend, and repeal laws.
  • To review these principles, look back at pp. 11–14.

4. What role does political stance or ideology play in our understanding of public law?

  • Think about whether you and your friends or family would all agree about the best way to run a state. What sorts of different priorities do you think different people would have?
  • For example, do you think everyone agrees on what things should be criminalised or how long a suspected terrorist should be detained for?
  • Now think about whether different people might disagree about how much the government should be trusted, or how much power the courts should have to supervise the government’s work.
  • If you are struggling, take another look at the extract from Loughlin’s book on p. 4 and the paragraph explaining it on p. 5.
  • You might also want to think about the different ideas about the purpose of administrative law, categorised as ‘red-light’, ‘green-light’ and ‘amber-light’ theories (pp. 9–10). 

5. How will you make use of this book as part of your public law / constitutional law studies?

  • Make sure that you are aware of the general structure of each chapter and the fact that there will be summary points and test questions along the way.
  • Then think about how you work best. You don’t have to read this book in a strict order. Do you prefer to write down key principles (for example from the summary boxes) and then add in the detail from your reading of the chapters once you have been through the relevant sections?
  • If you like to visualise things, you might want to consider drawing diagrams of how the principles fit together.
  • Or maybe you just prefer to take notes as you go along and will prefer to make your own summaries of the key points.