Sunset clauses and formal rule of law
The concept of the ‘rule of law’ is rooted in early Western philosophy with the scripts of Aristotle. 1 The term was later popularised by Dicey, as Lord Bingham accurately stresses. 2 Since its crystallisation, the rule of law has inspired thinkers such as Allan, 3 Lord Bingham, 4 Craig, 5 Dworkin, 6 Raz 7 and Unger, 8 all of whom have expounded upon different facets of the notion. Indeed, this array of divergent views confi rms that the rule of law is an ‘essentially contested concept’. 9 Waldron fi rst approached the rule of law from this perspective in 2002 during the legal controversy surrounding the recounting of votes in Florida in the 2000 presidential elections. 10
able dimension, as Paul Craig notes, there is relatively little discussion of its application to temporary legislation, despite its widespread contemporary prominence. Given that there are divergent views on the ‘rule of law’, the analysis is not restricted the to only one meaning of the rule of law, nor to formulate a new one. However, our understanding of sunset clauses and their constitutional value will be improved by focusing on specifi c aspects of the rule of law relevant to such clauses, such as the construction of the clause and the type of the legislation into which such clauses are incorporated.