The Dynamics of Common Law and Statute in English Law: One Coherent System?

Historically, English courts have tended to view legislation as an unwelcome incursion into the domain of the common law, which was seen as the primary source of law. The growth of statutory regulation means this attitude is now untenable in many areas, and that new understandings of the interaction and relationship between common law and statute are required. This paper maps out the various dynamics of the relationship between common law and statute, which include legislation acting as a catalyst and constraint for the common law, and argues that the courts now aim to interpret and develop the common law and legislation as a single coherent system. Given this, it then goes on to identify the relevant factors and considerations which should be used by the courts to determine the applicable dynamic between common law and legislation under this approach.