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Alison Young

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Associate Professor of Law

Alison L Young is Senior Law Tutor at Hertford College and teaches Constitutional law, Administrative law, European Union law and Comparative Public law, as well as providing occasional seminars in Constitutional Theory and Constitutional Principles of the European Union. She is also the Teaching and Learning Officer for the Faculty, having completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education at the University of Oxford.

She studied Law and French at the University of Birmingham, before coming to Hertford College, obtaining BCL and DPhil. She was a tutor in law and a Fellow of Balliol College from 1997 to 2000, before returning to Hertford as a Fellow and Tutor in law in October 2000.

Her DPhil examined defamation law and freedom of expression and she currently researches in applied constitutional theory, public law and human rights, particularly freedom of expression. She is the author of Parliamentary Sovereignty and the Human Rights Act (Hart, 2009).


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Journal Articles


A L Young, 'Will you, Won't you, Will you join the Deference Dance?' (2014) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies


A L Young, 'The Rule of Law in the United Kingdom: Formal or Substantive?' (2012) 6 International Constitutional Law 259


A L Young, 'Is Dialogue Working under the Human Rights Act 1998?' [2011] Public Law 773

A L Young, 'Sovereignty: Demise, Afterlife or Partial Resurrection?' (2011) 9 International Journal of Constitutional law 163 [...]

DOI: 10.1093/icon/mor028

This article is a response to the contributions of Nick Barber and Trevor Allan found in this volume. It argues that an analysis of “sovereignty” does serve a useful purpose in U.K. constitutional law. More specifically, it argues that discussions of “sovereignty” should also include an analysis of constitutive rules, particularly aiming to understand which institutions are “sovereign” in the sense of having the power to define and modify these constitutive rules. When analysed in this manner, an argument can be made that Dicey's traditional theory that Parliament cannot bind its successors is still a valid rule of the English legal system. In addition, this rule is desirable. Its presence is necessary, although not sufficient, to ensure that both Parliament and the courts have a rule in defining and modifying constitutive rules. This dual role is desirable as it helps to maintain the legitimacy of the U.K.’s “political” constitution.


A L Young, 'Deference, Dialogue and the Search for Legitimacy' (2010) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 815 [...]

DOI: 10.1093/ojls/gqq028

This review article discusses the relationship between deference and the presumption of constitutionality, as discussed in Brian Foley’s book, Deference and the Presumption of Constitutionality. Foley argues for the rejection of the presumption of constitutionality as it operates in the Irish Constitution, proposing instead a ‘due deference’ approach. This approach would require courts to give varying degrees of weight to the legislature’s conclusions that particular legislative provisions are constitutional. The article praises Foley’s book, particularly its stronger justification of due deference which focuses on its ability to foster a culture of justification which, in turn, facilitates popular sovereignty. The review also provides a criticism of the argument made in the book and discusses its application to the UK constitution. First, the review argues that the focus on constitutional as opposed to institutional factors to determine deference may, in practice, undermine Foley’s justification of due deference. Second it argues that Foley’s justification of deference may be best served in the UK constitution by a theory of democratic dialogue as opposed to the application of due deference.


A L Young, 'Human Rights, Horizontality and the Public/Private Divide: Towards a Holistic Approach' (2009) 2 UCL Human Rights Law Review 159

A L Young, 'In Defence of Due Deference' (2009) 72 Modern Law Review 554 [...]

The doctrine of deference permeates human rights review. It plays a role in de¢ning Convention rights, in determining the nature of the proportionality test applied when analysing non-absolute rights, as well as in deciding the stringency of its application. The role of deference has recently been subjected to both judicial and academic criticism, some of which advocates the demise of the doctrine. This article develops a contextual account of deference that is justi¢ed for epistemic reasons, rather than reasons of relative authority. This conception is able to withstand current criticism and ismodest enough to play a role in a range of di¡erent justi¢cations and understandings of judicial review under theHuman Rights Act.The article then provides amore detailed account of deference, taking account of the relative institutional features of the legislature, executive and judiciary, without running the risk that the court fails to performits constitutional function of protecting individual rights.


A L Young, 'Hunting Sovereignty: Jackson v Attorney General' [2006] 2006(Summer) Public Law 187


A L Young, 'A Peculiarly British Protection of Human Rights' (2005) 65 Modern Law Review 858 [...]

Review article of Gearty, "Principles of Human Rights Adjudication".

ISBN: 0026-7961

A L Young, 'Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza: Avoiding the Deference Trap' [2005] 2005(Spring) Public Law 23

A L Young, 'The Charter, Constitution and Human Rights: is this the Beginning or the End for Human Rights Protections by Community law?' (2005) 11 European Public Law 219 [...]

Assessment of the impact of the Charter and the Constitutional Treaty on the protection of human rights by European Community law. It challenges the prevalent criticisms of the protection of human rights by Community law and argues that the protection provided is that required by the European Union. Moreover, it warns of the dangers of adopting a stronger protection of human rights by Community law.

ISBN: SS13543725


A L Young and NW Barber, 'The Rise of Prospective Henry VIII Clauses and their Implications for Sovereignty' [2003] 2003(Spring) Public Law 112


A L Young, 'Remedial and Substantive Horizontality: the Common law and Douglas v Hello! Ltd' [2002] Public Law 232 [...]

Case analysis of Douglas V Hello! Ltd [2001] QB 967, arguing that the Court of Appeal has paved the way for strong indirect horizontality of the European Convention of Human Rights.

ISBN: 0033-3565


A L Young, 'Judicial Sovereignty and the Human Rights Act 1998' (2001) 61 Cambridge Law Journal 53 [...]

The article argues that, although Parliament appears to set limits to the interpretation of statutes in a manner compatible with Convention rights through section 3(1) Human Rights Act 1998, in reality the courts are given carte blanch. The article argues also that, if they so wished, courts could interpret section 3(1) so broadly that it would have the same effect in practice as if it impliedly repealed all statutory provisions contrary to Convention rights.

ISBN: 0008-1973



A L Young, Parliamentary Sovereignty and the Human Rights Act ( 2009) [...]

The Human Rights Act 1998 is criticised for providing a weak protection of human rights. The principle of parliamentary legislative supremacy prevents entrenchment, meaning that the courts cannot overturn legislation passed after the Act that contradicts Convention rights. This book investigates this assumption, arguing that the principle of parliamentary legislative supremacy is sufficiently flexible to enable a stronger protection of human rights, which can replicate the effect of entrenchment. Nevertheless, it is argued that the current protection should not be strengthened. If correctly interpreted, the Human Rights Act can facilitate democratic dialogue that enables courts to perform their proper correcting function to protect rights from abuse, whilst enabling the legislature to authoritatively determine contestable issues surrounding the extent to which human rights should be protected, alongside other rights, interests and goals in a particular society. This understanding of the Human Rights Act also provides a different justification for the preservation of Dicey's conception of parliamentary sovereignty in the UK Constitution.

ISBN: 978-1-84113-830-5



A L Young, 'Lord Hoffmann and Public Law: TV Dinner or Dining at the Savoy?' in Paul S Davies and Justine Pila (eds), The Jurisprudence of Lord Hoffmann (Hart Publishing 2015) [...]

The Chapter examines Lord Hoffmann's contribution to public law, arguing that his main contribution was the way in which he approached public law purposively and specifically, as opposed to applying axiomatic and general rules. The chapter then evalutes this approach to public law, arguing that, although generally this is a favourable approach for public law, this may be problematic when applied to key constitutional foundational priniciples of public law.

ISBN: 9781849465915


A L Young, 'Proportionality is Dead: Long Live Proportionality!' in G Huscroft, B Miller and G Webber (eds), Proportionality and the Rule of Law: Rights, Justification and Reasoning (Cambridge University Press 2014)


A L Young, 'Accountability, Human Rights Adjudication and the Human Rights Act 1998' in N Bamforth and P Leyland (eds), Accountability in the Contemporary Constitution (Oxford University Press 2013)

A L Young, 'Parliamentary Sovereignty Re-defined' in R Rawlings, P Leyland and A L Young (eds), Sovereignty and the Law: Domestic European and International Perspectives (Oxford University Press 2013) [...]

This chapter investigates whether Parliament should be able to bind its successors as to the manner and form in which it enacts legislation. First, it evaluates the argument of Jeffrey Goldsworthy that this should be so, provided that these restrictions do not restrict the substantive law-making powers of Parliament. It argues that Goldsworthy’s theory may be difficult to implement in practice, and that his aim of empowering Parliament to enact long-standing commitments could be achieved more clearly without creating practical difficulties, or requiring a change in the conception of sovereignty. Second, it provides a normative justification against empowering Parliament to bind its successors. Goldsworthy’s theory can be understood as an argument in favour of maximising the sovereignty of Parliament, where sovereignty is understood as unlimited law-making power. The chapter adopts a different focus, looking at the extent to which sovereignty entails the ability to determine the sphere of one’s own competences. It argues that, when understood in this light, it is more descriptively accurate and normatively justifiable to regard sovereignty as shared between Parliament and the courts. To empower Parliament to bind its successors is normatively undesirable as it could upset the delicate balance of powers in the UK constitution, where acceptance by Parliament and the courts is required to enable a change in the rules regarding the definition of Parliament and the manner in which legislation is enacted. This requirement facilitates legitimacy, ensuring that the long-standing commitments that Parliament wishes to preserve reflect the long-standing commitments shared by the people and the courts.

ISBN: 9780199684069

A L Young, 'The Human Rights Act 1998, Horizontality and the Constitutionalisation of Private Law' in Katja Ziegler and Peter Huber (eds), Current Problems in the Protection of Human Rights (Hart Publishing 2013)


A L Young, David Hoffman and Gavin Phillipson, 'Introduction' in Hoffman (ed), The Impact of the UK Human Rights Act on Private Law (Cambridge University Press 2011) [...]

Introduction to a book on the impact of the HRA on private law. The book sets out the main issues of discussion and themes running through this area of the law.

ISBN: 9781107009325

A L Young, 'Mapping Horizontal Effect' in Hoffman (ed), The Impact of the UK Human Rights Act on Private Law (Cambridge University Press 2011) [...]

Am examination of the different forms ways in which human rights may have horizontal effect and their relationship to the way in which human rights law may have an impact on private law.

ISBN: 9781107009325

A L Young, 'Precedent' in Hoffman (ed), The Impact of the UK Human Rights Act on Private Law (Cambridge University Press 2011) [...]

The chapter explains and evaluates the different ways in which courts are bound to follow decisions of the ECtHR. It evaluates the role of section 2(1) HRA 1998, as well as analysing the extent to which courts should follow decisions of the ECtHR as opposed to a binding precedent from a concurrent or higher court.

ISBN: 9781107009325


A L Young, 'Horizontality and the Human Rights Act 1998' in Katja S Ziegler (ed), Human Rights and Private Law: Privacy as Autonomy (Hart Publishing 2007)

Edited books


A L Young (ed), Sovereignty and the Law: Domestic, European and International Perspectives (Oxford University Press 2013)

Case Notes


Stephen Dimelow and others, 'High Speed Rail, Europe and the Constitution' (2014) 73 Cambridge Law Journal 234 [...]

Case Comment on HS2.


A L Young and others, 'Political Libel in New Zealand' (2001) 117 Law Quarterly Review 175 [...]

Case report on Lange v New Zealand Television Corporation, contrasting New Zealand and English approach to political libels.

ISBN: 0023-933X



A L Young, 'K Ewing, "Bonfire of the Liberties": Book Review' (2010) 6 European Human Rights Law Review 659


A L Young, 'Protecting Rights without a Bill of Rights: Institutional Performance and Reform in Australia' [2007] Public Law 846 [...]

Book Review

ISBN: 0033-3565


A L Young, 'Democracy through law' [2006] Public Law 873 [...]

Book review of Johan Steyn, Democracy through Law.

ISBN: 0033-3565


A L Young and others, 'The British Constitution in the Twentieth Century' (2005) 121 Sweet and Maxwell/Law Quarterly Review 168 [...]

Book review of Constitutional Law in the 20th Century by V Bogdanor (ed)

ISBN: 0023933X


A L Young, 'Courts and Political Institutions: a Comparative View' [2004] Public Law 463


A L Young, 'Koopmans: Courts and Political Institutions: A Comparative View' [2003] Public Law 434 [...]

Book review.

ISBN: 0033 3565


A L Young, 'A Theory of Deference in Administrative Law: Basis, Application and Scope' Public Law 898

A L Young, 'Making Rights Real: the Human Rights Act in its First Decade (Leigh and Masterman)' 68 Cambridge Law Journal 473


Teaching: Constitutional and Administrative Law; European Union Law; Human Rights Law; Philosophy of Law; Comparative Public Law

Research: Constitutional Theory, Human Rights, Public law, Media law and European Union law.

Other details

Correspondence address:

Hertford College
Catte Street
Oxford OX1 3BW

other affiliation(s):

Oxford Human Rights Hub

Centre for Competition Law & Policy

Link to personal web site

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