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The British Constitution as a Legal Phenomenon

The British Constitution as a Legal Phenomenon
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A thematic exhibition The British Constitution as a Legal Phenomenon dedicated to the 805th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta opens in the Legal Information Reading Room (207b) from August 3 to October 11.

The United Kingdom differs from other states in that it does not have a single document called the constitution. The absence of such a document affects the political system and the rule of law in the country. Constitutional conventions, which enshrined almost all the elements that are usually included in the texts of constitutions, have become of particular importance in the UK. It was the constitutional conventions that made it possible to preserve the basic democratic ideas of legal acts adopted several centuries ago in different historical conditions in Great Britain.

Among the historical documents with the ideas preserved therein through centuries, the Magna Carta of 1215 – one of the first constitutional acts in the history of modern Europe – stands out the most. The document is considered the starting point for the development of modern concepts of human rights and freedoms, fast and fair justice, the rule of law in relation to individuals and public officials, and the prohibition of arbitrary taxation. It serves as one of the foundations of the parliament formation. Until now, a British lawyer can refer to the Magna Carta to present arguments based on the principles of the supremacy of law and equality before the law.


The document is written in Latin and consists of a preamble and 63 articles. The first Magna Carta signed by King John in the 13th century did not survive. Four copies of the 1215 Charter have remained to the present day. All of them are kept in the UK: two in the British Library, and two in the Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals.

The exhibition will be of interest to historians and lawyers, teachers, graduates and undergraduates, as well as specialists in the field of comparative law and all readers interested in legal practice and legal culture of foreign countries.

The exposition includes about 80 documents among which are books, abstracts of dissertations, periodicals in Russian and English.

The exhibition includes the following thematic sections:

  • Magna Carta – The Fundamental Constitutional Act of the United Kingdom
  • Evolution of the British Constitution
  • Parliament of the United Kingdom: the Past and the Present
  • The Legislative Process of the United Kingdom
  • Judicial System of the United Kingdom
  • Civil Procedure of the United Kingdom
  • Criminal Law and Criminal Court of the United Kingdom
List of references

The opening hours of the exhibition correspond to the library’s opening hours.
Admission is by a library card or by the Social and Cultural Center ticket.

The books presented at the exhibition can be ordered through the E-Catalogue of the National Library of Belarus.

For more info: (+37 517) 293 27 28.

Official Documents Service Department


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National Library of Belarus News