what is Statute law / Acts of Parliament in english law?



definition of statute law :

Statute law, also known as legislation or statutory law, is a type of law that is created by a legislative body, such as the United Kingdom’s Parliament or the United States’ Congress. Statute law is written down in a formal document, called a statute or an act, and it has the force of law. Statute law is binding on everyone within the jurisdiction of the legislative body that created it. In English law, the parliament is the body responsible for the creation of statute laws, and they may be passed by the House of Commons, House of Lords and the Royal Assent. They may also be made by devolved legislative bodies such as the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. Statute law applies to all citizens within the jurisdiction of the legislative body and takes precedence over common law, which is based on judicial decisions and legal precedents.

History of the statute law :

Contrary to the general view, held by most people, statute law / Acts of Parliament has (have) existed for 1000 years in the English legal system. The first important wave of legislation was under Henry II (1154 – 1189). At that time legislation was made by the King in Council, but sometimes even by a kind of parliament which consisted mainly of a meeting of nobles and clergy summoned from their shires. In the 14th century, parliamentary legislation became more general.

Initially, the parliament contended itself with asking the king to legislate, but later on the parliament itself presented bills. It is in the Tudor period that the modern procedure was established of giving three readings to a bill before it could become law. Ever since the Tudor period, Parliament became more and more powerful and the practice of law making by statute increased. Nevertheless, statutes became am important source of law only in the 19th and 20th centuries. After World War II, with the intervention of the state in the economy and the creation of the Welfare State, statute law proliferated. In case of conflict with common law or equity, statute law prevails because no court of law or any other body can question the validity of an Act of Parliament, as the Parliament is sovereign.

Most modern statutes require much detailed work to implement them. These details are not usually contained in the statute, so the relevant authorities (ministries, local authorities, etc) make up the details and issue regulation in application of the statute. This form of law is called delegated legislation or secondary legislation . Acts of Parliament have sovereign force, and legislation made under delegated power can be valid only it it conforms exactly to the powers granted in the primary legislation.

So, since 1972 there has existed a joint committee of the two Houses of the British Parliament which examines every piece of delegated legislation to check whether the respective piece of legislation does not exceed the limits established by the statutory framework. The committee issues an opinion as to the validity of that piece of legislation, but only a court of law can declare the delegated/secondary legislation invalid.