The New Despotism

The New Despotism

Infobox Book
name = The New Despotism
orig title =
translator =

author = Lord Hewart of Bury
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series =
subject = Law and Politics
genre =
publisher = Ernest Benn Limited
release_date = 1929
media_type =
pages = vii+308
size_weight =
isbn =
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The New Despotism" was a book published in 1929 by The Rt. Hon. Lord Hewart of Bury, Lord Chief Justice of England by Ernest Benn Limited. Hewart described this "new despotism" as "to subordinate Parliament, to evade the Courts, and to render the will, or the caprice, of the Executive unfettered and supreme". [Lord Hewart, "The New Despotism" (London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1929), p. 17.]


I. The Nature of the Question
II. The Rule of Law
III. "Administrative Law"
IV. Administrative Lawlessness
V. The System at Work
VI. Departmental Legislation
VII. The Independence of the Judiciary
VIII. What is to be done?
IX. Some leading cases
X. Examples from statutes


The book created "a constitutional and political storm". [ [ REGULATIONS REVIEW IN THE NEW ZEALAND PARLIAMENT - [2004 MqLJ 2; (2004) 4 Macquarie Law Journal 7 ] ] It was rumoured that Whitehall "considered an attempt to boycott it". [John Ramsden (ed.), "Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century British Politics" (Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 299.] In response the British Government appointed the Donoughmore Committee (chaired by Lord Donoughmore) to review the powers of Ministers, however its Report (1932; Cmd. 4060) did not share Hewart's alarm.

The book and the Donoughmore Report provoked a group of socialist lawyers and political scientists, notably Professor Harold Laski and Sir Ivor Jennings to criticise the Diceyan concept of the rule of law. [W. I. Jennings, 'Administrative Law and Administrative Jurisdiction', "Journal of Comparative Legislation and International Law", 3rd series, XX (1938), p. 103. W. I. Jennings, 'The Report on Ministers' Powers', "Public Administration", Vols. X (1932) and XI (1933). W. I. Jennings, "The Law and the Constitution" (London: 1933).]

In 1956 Richard Crossman published a Fabian Society tract titled "Socialism and the New Despotism" where he hoped reform of the judiciary would make the judiciary "regain the traditional function of defending individual rights against encroachment". [R. H. S. Crossman, "Socialism and the New Despotism" (London: Fabian Tracts, No. 298, 1956), p. 12.]

It is a favourite of Lady Thatcher's. [Keith Sutherland, "The Party's Over" (Imprint Academic, 2004), p. 63, n. 3.]


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