Stability and flexibility: A Dicey business

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13 Scopus citations


The chief restraint upon those who command the physical forces of the country … must be their responsibility to the political judgments of their contemporaries and to the moral judgments of history. Introduction A significant part of the life of the law has been attempts to balance the competing values of stability and flexibility. In some areas greater weight may be accorded to flexibility while in others stability is particularly valued. In some areas the balance between stability and flexibility will be stable, in others it will require frequent re-calibration. The rule of law has long been identified as one of the most fundamental tenets of a democratic regime, as ‘the soul of the modern state’. The terms ‘rule of law’, ‘constitutionalism’, ‘individual rights’, ‘democracy’ and ‘liberalism’ are frequently mentioned as integral parts of a unified whole. Despite lack of consensus as to its precise content and scope, the rule of law has been connected to notions of generality, clarity, certainty, predictability and stability of rules. At the same time, general legal rules must also be flexible enough to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and developments. When such developments take place over time there may be a sufficient lag to allow for changing the rules so as to accommodate the new realities. Constitutional amendment provisions offer one example. A power to amend may be necessary to allow adaptations to sustained pressures for change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGlobal Anti-Terrorism Law and Policy
EditorsVictor Ramraj, Michael Hor, Kent Roach
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780511493874
ISBN (Print)9780521851251
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


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