The Contested Boundaries of Devolved Legislative Competence
Public Seminar by Prof Aileen McHarg
In recent years, there has been significant controversy around the boundaries of devolved legislative competence. This has manifested in a number of highly contested changes to the devolution legislation and surrounding constitutional frameworks, as well as more frequent resort to the courts to resolve disputes about devolved competence. Much – although not all – of this controversy is attributable to the Brexit process and its ongoing repercussions.
The net effect has been to substantially increase the complexity of constraints on devolved legislative competence, with implications for the autonomy, effectiveness, and intelligibility of law-making at the devolved level. This paper will explore three inter-related reasons for increased controversy around devolved legislative competence: the greater complexity of the devolved law-making environment; increasing willingness to resort to the courts to resolve disputes over the boundaries of devolved competence; and the impact of recent Supreme Court jurisprudence.
It will also consider the principles which ought to inform the boundaries of devolved competence and the determination of boundary disputes, as well as potential options for improving the security and effectiveness of devolved law-making, and the accessibility and intelligibility of constraints upon devolved competence.
Aileen McHarg has been Professor of Public Law and Human Rights at Durham University since 2019. She previously taught at the Universities of Strathclyde, Glasgow and Bristol. She has written widely on UK and Scots public law, but she has a particular interest in devolution and the development of the UK’s territorial constitution. Amongst other things, she is joint General Editor of Public Law and co-chair of the British-Irish Chapter of the International Society of Public Law.
This event is being hosted by the School of Law.
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