Constitutional and Administrative Law by John Alder (auth.)

By John Alder (auth.)

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These devices are used in connection with the Council of Ministers of the EC and also in relation to certain powers of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. Such requirements of course amount to minority control and are unlikely if they are frequently used to withstand the inexorable force of the majority. If we wish to put limits on what Mill called the tyranny of the majority we might therefore have to use non-democratic mechanisms such as the courts. De Toqueville (1945, p. 285) saw lawyers as a kind of aristocracy who are a check against the mob.

Unlike those such as Nosick, Hayek and perhaps Loughin who seek to persuade us that one or other should triumph, Harlow and Rawlings recognise the difficulty of accommodating both perspectives by postulating a permanent 'amber light' condition. The 'functionalist' approach to law which exhorts us to treat law as an instrument of 'policy' seems to be essentially a re-run of the same battle. The other approach attempts to reconcile the competing interests by reference to a grand harmonising principle.

According to this perspective the common good is nothing more than the outcome of transactions between individuals, with each seeking to maximise his or her own interests and satisfactions (bearing in mind that for some people satisfaction lies in helping others). For example 18 General Principles government departments may be anxious to advance their power and prestige at the expense of other departments. From this perspective the proper constitutional model is that of Hobbes and private law concepts are to be favoured (see McAuslan, 1988; Kelman, 1988).

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