Event: Contemporary Challenges for Constitutional Accountability – UKCLA Conference 2023

Call for Papers

UKCLA Conference 2023

Contemporary Challenges for Constitutional Accountability

University of Liverpool – 11th & 12th September 2023

The nature and effectiveness of the UK’s framework of constitutional accountability has been at the centre of many recent legal and political controversies.

We might see this, among other examples, in controversies concerning ministerial conduct and standards from ‘wallpapergate’ to ‘partygate’, in relation to the Brexit referendum and its aftermath, in ongoing debates about Scottish independence, in the process of governing without an Executive in Northern Ireland, in human rights law reform and attempts to process refugee claims in Rwanda, in the increasing recourse to statutory ouster clauses to limit or restrict judicial review, in concerns about the use of delegated legislation and the limits of parliamentary scrutiny, and potential challenges faced by the network of independent institutions tasked with enforcing constitutional norms and values in a democratic system.

While of course the policies and decisions taken by any government will inevitably invite controversy, the range of recent examples – and just as importantly, the political and legal responses to them – provide public lawyers with a timely opportunity to reflect on the contemporary features of accountability in the UK’s present-day constitution.  In this period of enduring constitutional turbulence, an overarching assessment of the operation of the UK’s accountability practices and principles – both looking back and to the future – is increasingly necessary.

Accordingly, the UKCLA and the Liverpool Public Law Unit will hold a conference in September 2023 to explore and analyse ‘Contemporary Challenges for Constitutional Accountability’.  Taking a broad approach to the idea of ‘accountability’, we are opening a call for papers from scholars on a range of questions relating to the current landscape of constitutional accountability, including but not limited to:

  • what ‘accountability’ means and how it operates within the current constitutional landscape within or across the UK and its constituent nations
  • the relationship and tensions between legal and political modes of accountability
  • the effectiveness of existing processes for holding governments and public authorities to account, including parliamentary scrutiny, enforcement of norms of ministerial and political responsibility, and judicial review, whether in general or in relation to specific subject areas
  • the extent to which longstanding constitutional accountability principles and processes are adapting or changing in the contemporary constitutional environment
  • the insights into legal and political accountability which are generated from feminism or approaches organised around gender and sexuality
  • issues relating to race and racialisation in the context of constitutional accountability
  • the significance and effects of the interactions between parliamentary and extra-parliamentary actors (including the established media, social media users, other pressure groups and political activists) in the context of constitutional accountability
  • what novel accountability mechanisms have emerged and the benefits and challenges accompanying any such new tools
  • case studies of constitutional accountability as it operates in relation to any particular contemporary political challenge or controversy in the UK, in relation to the devolved governments, or at local or regional level

This event is kindly funded by the UKCLA and the School of Law and Social Justice at the University of Liverpool.  We will be able to offer speakers funding to cover travel to and from Liverpool, overnight accommodation on the 11th September, and attendance at the conference dinner.

We intend to produce a symposium of blog posts on this theme for the UKCLA blog based on papers presented at the conference.

We are keen to receive proposals from scholars at any career stage, including early career researchers and postgraduate research students.  We also especially encourage proposals from women, scholars who are black, Asian or from other minority ethnic groups, or other colleagues who are otherwise underrepresented in the discipline.

Please send proposed paper titles along with a brief abstract (around 300 words) to Dr Stephanie Reynolds and Professor Mike Gordon at S.Reynolds@liverpool.ac.uk and Michael.Gordon@liverpool.ac.uk by Monday 19th June 2023.