This question arises from an answer to a question here regarding Parliamentary Sovereignty. If the UK Parliament was to legislate for something, assuming it didn't violate international treaties etc., is there anything that could stop that becoming law?

So for example Parliament was to pass a bill that said:

On a Tuesday it is illegal to wear shoes on roads that have more than two vowels in their name.

Now obviously mass public outcry could pretty quickly encourage their representatives to change their mind, and likely a new party "Footware Freedom Party" would probably be started up pretty quickly.

But are there any outside forces that could prevent this from becoming law, or overturn the bill?

I've deliberately made the bill insanely silly to try to avoid debates over it, I am more interested in the workings of Parliamentary Sovereignty

  • Are you asking about the UK specifically? I don't really see why an uncodified constitution has anything to do with it.
    – JJJ
    Nov 8, 2019 at 17:10
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    In the US, one of the earliest Supreme Court cases established that the courts can overturn parts of a law which violate the Constitution. The question appears to basically be whether Judicial Review can exist in a country with no founding document that would pre-empt the Legislature. Nov 8, 2019 at 17:15
  • Yes, @IllusiveBrian, this is essentially what I am asking.
    – PandaPops
    Nov 8, 2019 at 17:25
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    @JJforTransparencyandMonica I will edit the question to specify the uk, thanks for your advice.
    – PandaPops
    Nov 8, 2019 at 19:57
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    Something something royal assent: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_assent
    – user2565
    Nov 9, 2019 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


In the UK, there is the concept of Primary and Secondary legislation - primary legislation consists of the acts passed by Parliament, while secondary legislation consists of the regulations put in place by executive agencies and regulatory bodies that implement primary legislation.

Under the UKs doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty, not even the Supreme Court can overturn Primary legislation - it can overturn Secondary legislation where it is deemed to breach the Primary legislation that enables it.

The Supreme Court can make a declaration of incompatibility of Primary legislation under Section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998 if it considers the legislation to be incompatible with something issued either under that act or the European Convention on Human Rights, and that normally leads it to be re-examined by Parliament.

The Supreme Court can also suggest that primary legislation be re-examined by Parliament should it consider it to be dangerous, but would still need to implement the legislation as it stands.

In short, no - once passed by Parliament, an Act becomes law and only ceases to be law once a repealing Act is passed. There are many cases in the UK where a Judge has commented on the absurdity of a law but noted that he has to implement it as it stood.

  • 3
    Citations to follow once I’m back on something with a sane keyboard and copy and paste system.
    – user16741
    Nov 8, 2019 at 20:22

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