Delegated legislation in the pandemic: further limits of a constitutional bargain revealed

Daniella Lock, Fiona de Londras, Pablo Grez Hidalgo

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The challenge that delegated legislation poses to parliamentary sovereignty and associated supremacy in the UK is purportedly addressed through what we term the 'constitutional bargain of delegated law-making'. This has three elements: the proper limitation of delegation by Parliament through well-designed parent legislation, the exercise of self-restraint by the Executive in the use of delegated authority, and the enablement of meaningful scrutiny by Parliament. As a paradigm situation in which delegated law-making might be said to be necessary, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic is an apposite context in which to assess the robustness of that bargain. Our analysis uses a sample of Westminster-generated pandemic-related secondary instruments as a peephole into the broader dynamics of this constitutional bargain and further reveals its significant frailties; frailties that are exposed, but not created, by the pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-733
Number of pages39
JournalLegal Studies
Issue number4
Early online date5 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2023


  • constitutional law
  • parliamentary sovereignty
  • separation of powers
  • delegated legislation
  • executive
  • emergency law making


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