Difference Between a Written and an Unwritten Constitution

In the article below know what a Constitution is and what is the difference between the two kinds of Constitution- The Written and the Non-Written. Constitution provides for the laws that are required to govern the land to be followed by both Governor and the Governed. Take a look at the differences between the two categories of the Constitution.
Created On: Nov 25, 2021 20:28 IST
Modified On: Nov 25, 2021 20:30 IST
Written and Unwritten Constitution
Written and Unwritten Constitution

In the article below know what is a Constitution, its uses and its types. Moreover, the candidates of various Government exams would also know what the difference between the two kinds of constitutions is. The Constitution is the basic law of the country. It is the collection of fundamental principles that make the legal basis of any country's polity or governance. 

A Constitution may be Written or Unwritten. There is a difference between these two forms of Constitution. Take a look below to know more about it. 

Unwritten Constitution:

Any constitution in which laws or rules are not written in any form or incorporated into a book but are documented for the validity of the constitution is called Unwritten Constitution.

Magna Carta, considered to be the oldest unwritten form of the Constitution, was a charter of rights for the nobles, signed by King John of England. It came into force on 15th June 1215. The charter vowed for protection of the rights of the nobility from any interference of the crown. The Magna Carta eventually evolved into the unwritten constitution of the United Kingdom later. 

Magna Carta

Written Constitution: 

Any Constitution which has been written down and has all the details available in form of a book that can be referred to at later stages is called a written constitution. 

The oldest written Constitution is of the United States of America. It was drafted on 17 September 1787, ratified on 21 June 1788. It came into force on March 4th, 1789. James Madison wrote the document that formed the model for the Constitution of the USA. He is known as one of the founding fathers of America. 

Difference Between Unwritten and Written form of Constitution: 

Take a look at the table below to have a complete sense of the difference between the two of the forms of the Constitution.

Unwritten Constitution Written Constitution
Unwritten constitution refers to the unstructured version of the constitution Written Constitution refers to the codified, compiled and cohesive constitution, which can be stored for future reference
The terms of an Unwritten Constitution evolve over a long period with a new set of laws and guidelines added as time passes on. Written constitutions like the Indian Constitution are framed by analysis and discussion on any possible issue and compiled in a step by step matter with subsequent changes made instantaneously or with time
These types of Constitutions can be rigid or flexible or both Such constitutions are flexible which means the changes can be made in them with time
The Parliament is the supreme power in a country with an unwritten constitution The Constitution is supreme where there is a written constitution
The judiciary is limited in its powers and the Parliament can only challenge things when there is an Unwritten Constitution The Judiciary is more powerful and can have the power of judicial review so as to ensure constitutional supremacy
The Magna Carta can be considered the earliest form of the unwritten constitution. The Constitution of the United States of America is considered the oldest written constitution, that is still in force. 
Such Constitutions work better in a Monarchy or Autocracy Such Constitutions work best in a Democracy

Also, Read| What is the difference between the Constitution and the Law?

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