Supreme Court: UK Edition
October 1, 2009 was a historical day in U.K.’s judicial history, as the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was established.
Prior to last week, the House of Lords held the judicial function as the court of last resort.
A Committee of legally qualified lords who sat in the House of Lords, known as the Law Lords, heard final appeals of court decisions. Even though they rarely took part in political debates or voted on legislation, the Law Lords were peers of the House of Lords.
Prompted by concern and possible criticism by the European Union, due to the appearance of a conflict of interest as the officials who execute laws were those testing those laws, there was a movement to create visibly distinct legislative, judicial, and executive powers.
In 2003, then Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the creation of a judicial body to act as a Supreme Court. The Constitutional Reform Act, 2005 provides that the Supreme Court take over the judicial functions from the House of Lords. Now the Supreme Court has their own building, identity separate from the House of Lords, and blog.
The Supreme Court is the court of the last resort in all civil matters in the U.K. and criminal matters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
There are 12 Law Lords (with one current vacancy) who will hear appeals, with up to nine judges hearing an appeal. It will be interesting to see if the appointment of the Law Lords becomes politicized as in the United States or if this move merely re-brands the system that was already in place.
Thanks for reading,
Diane A. Vieira – Click here for more information on Diane Vieira.