Undermining loyalty to legality? An empirical analysis of perceptions of 'lockdown' law and guidance during COVID-19

Naomi Finch, Simon Halliday, Joe Tomlinson, Jed Meers, Mark Wilberforce

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Abstract

This article substantially extends the existing constitutional and legal critiques of the use of soft law public health guidance in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing upon the findings of a national survey undertaken during the first wave of the pandemic in June 2020, it shows how the perceived legal status of lockdown rules made a significant difference as to whether the UK public complied with them and that this effect is a product of the legitimacy that law itself enjoys within UK society. Based on this analysis, it argues that the problems with the government's approach to guidance, that have been subjected to criticism in constitutional and legal terms, may also be open to critique on the basis that they risk undermining the public's loyalty to the law itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1419-1439
Number of pages21
JournalModern Law Review
Volume85
Issue number6
Early online date5 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • pandemic
  • public health

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