The rule of good law: form, substance, and fundamental rights

Michael P. Foran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
3354 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores the effect that conformity to the rule of law has on the ends which might legitimately be pursued within a legal system. The neat distinction between formal and substantive conceptions of the rule of law will be challenged: even apparently formal conceptions necessarily affect the content of law and necessarily entail the protection of certain fundamental rights. What remains of the formal/substantive dichotomy is, in fact, a distinction between conceptions of the rule of law which guarantee the substantive justice of each and every law and those which entail some commitment to basic requirements of justice while nevertheless leaving room for unjust laws. Ultimately, the only significant distinction between competing theories of the rule of law concerns the nature of the connection between legality and justice, not whether there is any such connection at all.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-595
Number of pages26
JournalThe Cambridge Law Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2019


  • rule of law
  • legal form
  • legal content
  • fundamental rights
  • means
  • ends


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