Types Of Constitution (Written And Unwritten) With Its Merits And Demerits

Table Of Contents

  • Meaning Of Written Constitution
  • Merits Of Written Constitution
  • Demerits Of Written Constitution
  • Meaning Of Unwritten Constitution
  • Merits Of Unwritten Constitution
  • Demerits Of Unwritten Constitution

We have two types of constitutions. Namely:
1. Written Constitution
2. Unwritten Constitution
1. Written Constitution
A written constitution is defined as a document or set of document establishing the section of rules embodied in a document in which the fundamental principles concerning the organization of political system. Powers of its various agencies are written down and codified. Thus the constitution of U.S.A (1789) outlines the compositions of the judiciary and their powers, the fundamental rights of citizens and also mention’s method for its amendment.
Merits Of Written Constitution
1. It Is Easily Available: Since is a single document. It can easily be obtained and studied making it possible for the people to know their rights, duties and obligations.
2. It Ensures Political Stability: Since it is a single document the method of acquiring power is clearly stated. This makes for political stability.
3. For Ease Of Reference: For example, Judges in the law courts can easily turn it while deciding cases.
4. Provides A Means Of Assessment: It helps in measuring and assessing the performance of government as the principles governing their operations are written down.
5. Prevent Conflicts In The Exercise Of Power: This is possible because the constitution has stated clearly and separately the powers and functions of each organ of government.
6. Procedures For Amendment: This is clearly stated so that no one group can change the constitution to suit their selfish purpose.
Demerits Of A Written Constitution
1. Change Cannot Be Effected Quickly: Change cannot be effected quickly if the people might desire.
2. It Can Discourage Reforms: The process of amendment can take a very long time and this may discourage necessary reforms.
3. Written Constitutions Are Generally Rigid: They are not easily adoptable to changing situation.
4. A Reference Point: It is written and can easily be referred to resulting in litigation as often as possible between individuals, individuals against government etc especially when their mights are trampled upon.
5. Types Of Government: A written constitution may not fully accommodate different types of government, for instance a unitary form of government.
6. Frequent Conflict: Written constitution can cause frequent conflict among the three arms of government especially if their functions are not properly defined.
2. Unwritten Constitution
It is defined as one which the fundamental principles of the organization and power of a government are not codified in one document. It is usually a combination of states, judicial principles, customs and conventions which guide the operation of government.
The constitution of Great britain is a good example. For instance, The British constitution is primarily an unwritten constitution, there is no such things as a copy of the british constitution. The same applied to the old oyo kingdom where the constitution was largely unwritten and based on the oral tradition of the people. The main characteristics of an unwritten constitution is that is flexible.
Merits Of Unwritten Constitution
1. It Is Flexible: It does not require special procedures for its amendment. It can be done in the same way ordinary laws are made.
2. Emergencies: Unwritten constitution are suitable in time of emergencies.
3. It Can Be Change Quickly: Since it is flexible, it can be changed as quickly as the people might desire.
4. Few individuals, institutions may not be as frequent as in written constitution.
5. Quick Decisions: Decisions are easily made and taken too.
6. Easy To Interpret: It is flexible and not rigid and so the constitution can easily be interpreted.
Demerits Of Unwritten Constitution
1. Violation Of The Rights Of Citizen: This could be made possible in the process of arbitrary changes of the constitution.
2. No Ease Of Reference: It cannot be easily turned to or studied the way we study written constitution.
3. Not Easily Known: Since the customs, conventions, statutes e.t.c. making up an unwritten constitution are not contained in a single document they are not easily known.
4. Arbitrary Government: This could be made possible in the exercise of powers and function by political leaders.
5. No Checks And Balances: Unwritten constitutions does not have checks and balance which are usually entrenched in written constitution.