List of countries with an unwritten Constitution: A Constitution is generally the supreme law of the land; it refers to the body of laws, rules, and principles governing the lives and transactions of people in a country. There are two major types of constitution, namely: Written and Unwritten constitution.
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Meaning of an unwritten Constitution
An unwritten constitution is a constitution wherein the body of rules, fundamental principles of the state, precedents, and policies are not embodied in a single legal document.
In other words, an Unwritten constitution is a Constitution that is not codified, meaning that it is not arranged in a systematic order and codified in one document, rather it may be found in various documents and sources.
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Features of an Unwritten Constitution
1. An unwritten constitution is progressive because Laws can be added to the constitution when required and needed in society.
2. It is flexible and can be easily amended.
3. It is uncodified as it is not contained in a single document.
4. An unwritten constitution is not systematically arranged.
5. An unwritten constitution does not accord much power to the Judiciary for Judicial review.
These features are prevalent in a good number of countries that make use of an unwritten constitution.
List of countries With an Unwritten/Uncodified Constitution
1. United Kingdom: The United Kingdom is one country that comes to the minds of many when a discussion about an unwritten constitution pops up.
The United Kingdom has a good number of written and unwritten laws; however, these laws are not codified in a single document. Thus, it is unwritten. The unwritten nature of the Constitution in the United Kingdom can be traced to its historical development and this Unwritten Constitution rightly consists of acts of parliament, rules, court judgment, and conventions therein.
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2. Canada: It is no surprise that Canada has an unwritten constitution, as it was originally a colony of the United Kingdom. Just like the United Kingdom, Canada has both written and unwritten laws. However, it is largely unwritten and so, therefore, practices an unwritten constitution.
The Written aspect of Canadian laws includes The Canada Constitution Act, 1867, and the Constitution Act, 1982. While the unwritten laws therein including but are not limited to the Constitution, Conventions, Royal prerogative by the crown, unwritten principles, and rules in the state.
3. New Zealand: New Zealand is an independent sovereign state whose laws are not codified in a single legal document. In other words, New Zealand has no single constitutional document, rather its constitution is unwritten consisting of various pieces of legislation, conventions, practices, and several other legal documents such as the Bill of Rights 1688, Act of Settlement 1701, and some parts of the Magna Carta which were incorporated in New Zealand by virtue of the Imperial Laws Application 1988.
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4. Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia is another perfect example of a country with an unwritten constitution, as it has no legally binding written constitution. The basic law in the land of Saudi Arabia majorly consist of Sharia Laws derived from the quaram and sunnah of prophet Muhammad, and the royal decrees in the state. E.g. the basic law of Saudi Arabia.
5. Israel: Following futile attempts to draft a formal constitution in Israel due to various disagreements, Israel has an unwritten constitution.
The unwritten constitution of Israel consists of the basic law of Israel, common law, precedent, some statute, and the hora decision.
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6. San Marino: While San Marino has a written constitution, it does not have a codified constitution. That’s to say that San Marino just has several documents which make up its constitution, so therefore it has an unwritten constitution.
7. Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland may be regarded as a conglomerate of the United Kingdom. However, it is also a country of its own, and in this Country, there is no written constitution.
The Unwritten Constitution therein consists of the numerous acts of parliament and conventions.
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In conclusion, these countries so stated in this Article are the ones currently making use of an unwritten constitution. Over the years, we have witnessed a good number of countries on the same pedestal, for example, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Russia, Libya, Thailand, and India. However, these countries have now adopted a formal and written constitution.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.