Photograph of the UK Supreme Court

Earlier this month Graham Gee, a lecturer in law at Birmingham Law School, chaired a seminar in Courtroom 1 at the UK Supreme Court. The seminar was on “Judicial Independence and the UK Supreme Court” and was conducted under the Chatham House Rule. 

The seminar was part of a series that Graham (together with colleagues from UCL and Queen Mary) is running under the auspices of a 3-year, AHRC-funded project on The Politics of Judicial Independence. This series has seen contributions from judges from the UK Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court as well as former cabinet ministers, former Lord Chancellors, MPs and civil servants. A note of the latest seminar can be found here.

Photograph of Court 1 at the UK Supreme Court

(Courtroom 1 at the UK Supreme Court)

Amongst the points made by contributors was that statistics do not bear out the popular perception that the Supreme Court is exercising more power over the Scottish legal system than was the case prior to Scottish devolution. While there has been an increase in the volume of cases going from Scotland to the Supreme Court (and its predecessor the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords), the success rate for Scottish appeals was essentially the same as that for other cases under the Appellate Committee, and since the creation of the Supreme Court in 2009 the success rate for Scottish appeals has been notably lower than that of others. There were differing views on appointments to the Court. The Crime and Courts Bill proposes to remove the Deputy President from the selection commission for the Court. Some regarded this as negative: the Justices have the best knowledge about what the Court needs in new appointments. Others disagreed, arguing that while this might be true, no part of government in a democracy should be self-replicating.

Further information:

  • UK Supreme Court
  • Politics of Judicial Independence project note on the seminar
  • Project website at UCL

(Images provided by the Press Office at the UK Supreme Court)