chapter  2
22 Pages

Sunset clauses as an expression of legislative power in medieval England

A Prince never lacks legitimate reasons to colour over his failure to keep his word. Of this, one could cite an endless number of modern examples to show how many pacts and how many promises have been made null and void because of the faithlessness of princes [. . .]

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch 18

During the late medieval period, the fi rst parliamentary enactments are recorded and the limited sources of that period provoked scholarship which endeavoured to explain the relevant enactment processes. A debate between Coke, Pluncknett and McIlwain on the distinction between ordinances and statutes in that period is, in fact, indirectly relevant to the discussion over early uses of sunset clauses.