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The office of the Crown


Allen, JG, The office of the Crown, The Cambridge Law Journal, 77, (2) pp. 298-320. ISSN 1469-2139 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

COPYRIGHT: © Cambridge Law Journal and Contributors 2018

DOI: doi:10.1017/S0008197318000338


A troubling veil of mystery still shrouds the central institution of the British Constitution – the Crown. In this paper, I examine the modern utility of five historical doctrines: the doctrine of the "King’s two bodies"; the doctrine that the Crown is a "corporation sole"; the doctrine that the King can "do no wrong"; the doctrine that (high) public offices are "emanations" of the Crown; and the doctrine that the Crown is "one and indivisible". Using some insights from social ontology, the history of office in the Western legal tradition, and the sociology of role and status, I argue that the first four of these doctrines can be refashioned into a conception of the Crown as an office. An office is an enduring institutional entity to which individuals bear a relationship from time to time, but which is separate from any individual incumbent and is to be considered in legal analysis as a separate acting subject. Using the logic of office, official personality and official action, I distinguish between the Queen, the Crown, Her Majesty’s Government and the Commonwealth and argue that together they provide a serviceable model of the modern British Constitution. The final doctrine, however, must be abandoned – the Crown is plural and divisible and this must be taken into account when using the Crown to reason about the UK’s relationship to other constitutional orders.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Crown, corporation sole, concept of office, officer of the Crown
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Law in context
Research Field:Legal theory, jurisprudence and legal interpretation
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in law and legal studies
UTAS Author:Allen, JG (Mr Jason Allen)
ID Code:134265
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Office of the Faculty of Law
Deposited On:2019-08-05
Last Modified:2019-09-16

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