Parliamentary Immunity

A Comprehensive Study of the Systems of Parliamentary Immunity of the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands in a European Context

By Sasha Hardt

Is it necessary and just that parliamentarians are immune from legal action? If so, to what extent is such immunity justified and what purpose does it serve? These questions reveal a constitutional dilemma. On the one hand, parliamentary immunity safeguards the necessary independence of the legislature. Immunity protects members of parliament from politically motivated legal action and facilitates freedom of parliamentary debate. On the other hand, however, it distorts equality before the law, limits the rights of citizens, and obstructs the administration of justice. This dilemma touches the very core of constitutional law. Immunity rules are intimately linked to the basic setup of the democratic state, to the separation of powers, the concept of representation, the rule of law, and fundamental rights. This book contains a comprehensive study of parliamentary immunity in the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands. It explores and compares the material legal rules, as well as the historical and theoretical background of the three systems, with a view toward identifying common norms and principles. It also takes into account the European dimension of parliamentary immunity by placing the national immunity systems in the context of the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights and by providing an analysis of the immunity regime of the European Parliament. While no universal blueprint for parliamentary immunity is in sight, the book demonstrates that a common legal understanding of the function and purpose of immunity is slowly emerging. (Series: Ius Commune Europaeum - Vol. 119)

322 pages

Publication Date: 9/27/2013
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781780681917