Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
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The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (
initialism An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase. Acronyms are usually formed from the initial letters of words, as in ''NATO'' (''North Atlantic Treaty Organization''), but sometimes use syllables, as ...
: UKSC or the
acronym An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase. Acronyms are usually formed from the initial letters of words, as in ''NATO'' (''North Atlantic Treaty Organization''), but sometimes use syllables, as ...
: SCOTUK) is the final court of appeal in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
for all civil cases, and for criminal cases originating in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As the United Kingdom’s highest appellate court for these matters, it hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population. The Court usually sits in the Middlesex Guildhall in
Westminster Westminster is an area of Central London, part of the wider City of Westminster. The area, which extends from the River Thames to Oxford Street, has many Tourism in London, visitor attractions and historic landmarks, including the Palace of W ...
, though it can sit elsewhere and has, for example, sat in the Edinburgh City Chambers, the
Royal Courts of Justice The Royal Courts of Justice, commonly called the Law Courts, is a court building in Westminster which houses the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales. The High Court also sits on circui ...
in Belfast, and the Tŷ Hywel Building in Cardiff. The United Kingdom has a doctrine of
parliamentary sovereignty Parliamentary sovereignty, also called parliamentary supremacy or legislative supremacy, is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. It holds that the legislative body has absolute sovereignty and is supreme over all ...
, so the Supreme Court is much more limited in its powers of
judicial review Judicial review is a process under which executive, legislative and administrative actions are subject to review by the judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and cou ...
than the constitutional or supreme courts of some other countries. It cannot overturn any
primary legislation Primary legislation and secondary legislation (the latter also called delegated legislation or subordinate legislation) are two forms of law, created respectively by the legislative and executive branches of governments in representative dem ...
made by
Parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws, and overseeing ...
. However, as with any court in the UK, it can overturn secondary legislation if, for an example, that legislation is found to be ''
ultra vires ('beyond the powers') is a Latin phrase used in law to describe an act which requires legal authority but is done without it. Its opposite, an act done under proper authority, is ('within the powers'). Acts that are may equivalently be terme ...
'' to the powers in primary legislation allowing it to be made. Further, under section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998, the Supreme Court, like some other courts in the United Kingdom, may make a declaration of incompatibility, indicating that it believes that the legislation subject to the declaration is incompatible with one of the rights in the
European Convention on Human Rights The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR; formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international convention to protect human rights and political freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by th ...
. Such a declaration can apply to primary or secondary legislation. The legislation is not overturned by the declaration, and neither Parliament nor the government is required to agree with any such declaration. However, if they do accept a declaration, ministers can exercise powers under section 10 of the Human Rights Act to amend the legislation by statutory instrument to remove the incompatibility or ask Parliament to amend the legislation. As authorised by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Part 3, Section 23(1), the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was formally established on 1 October 2009 and is a non-ministerial government department of the
Government of the United Kingdom ga, Rialtas a Shoilse gd, Riaghaltas a Mhòrachd , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size = 220px , image2 = Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg , image_size2 = 180px , caption = Royal coat of arms of t ...
. Section 23 of the Constitutional Reform Act limits the number of judges on the Court to 12, though it also allows for this rule to be amended, to further increase the number of judges, if a resolution is passed in both Houses of Parliament. It assumed the
judicial functions of the House of Lords Whilst the House of Lords of the United Kingdom is the upper chamber of Parliament and has government ministers, it for many centuries had a judicial function. It functioned as a court of first instance for the trials of peers, for Impeachment i ...
, which had been exercised by the
Lords of Appeal in Ordinary Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, commonly known as Law Lords, were judges appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 to the British House of Lords, as a committee of the House, effectively to exercise the judicial functions of the House of ...
(commonly called " Law Lords"), the 12 judges appointed as members of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
to carry out its judicial business as the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. Its jurisdiction over devolution matters had previously been exercised by the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (United Kingdom), Privy Council (JCPC) is the Supreme court, highest court of appeal for the Crown Dependencies, the British Overseas Territories, some Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth countries ...
. The current President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court are Lord Reed of Allermuir and Lord Hodge respectively.


History


Creation

The creation of a Supreme Court for the United Kingdom was first proposed in a consultation paper published by the Department of Constitutional Affairs in July 2003. Although the paper noted that there had been no criticism of the then-current Law Lords or any indication of an actual bias, it argued that the separation of the
judicial The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of courts that adjudication, adjudicates legal disputes/disagreements and interprets, defends, and app ...
functions of the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords from the legislative functions of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
should be made explicit. The paper noted the following concerns: # Whether there was any longer sufficient transparency of independence from the executive and the legislature to give assurance of the independence of the judiciary. # The requirement for the appearance of impartiality and independence limited the ability of the Law Lords to contribute to the work of the House itself, thus reducing the value to both them and the House of their membership. # It was not always understood by the public that judicial decisions of "the House of Lords" were in fact taken by the Appellate Committee and that non-judicial members were never involved in the judgments. Conversely, it was felt that the extent to which the Law Lords themselves had decided to refrain from getting involved in political issues in relation to legislation on which they might later have had to adjudicate was not always appreciated. The first President of the Court, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, claimed that the old system confused people and that with the Supreme Court there would for the first time be a clear
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflic ...
among the judiciary, the legislature and the executive. # Space within the House of Lords was at a constant premium and a separate supreme court would ease the pressure on the Palace of Westminster. The main argument against a new Supreme Court was that the previous system had worked well and kept costs down. Reformers expressed concern that this second main example of a mixture of the legislative, judicial and executive might conflict with professed values under the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six pr ...
. Officials who make or execute laws have an interest in court cases that put those laws to the test. When the state invests judicial authority in those officials or even their day-to-day colleagues, it puts the independence and impartiality of the courts at risk. Consequently, it was hypothesised closely connected decisions of the Law Lords to debates had by friends or on which the
Lord Chancellor The lord chancellor, formally the lord high chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking traditional minister among the Great Officers of State (United Kingdom), Great Officers of State in Scotland and England in the United Kingdom, no ...
had expressed a view might be challenged on human-rights grounds on the basis that they had not constituted a fair trial. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, later President of the Supreme Court, expressed fear that the new court could make itself more powerful than the House of Lords committee it succeeded, saying that there is a real risk of "judges arrogating to themselves greater power than they have at the moment". Lord Phillips said such an outcome was "a possibility", but was "unlikely". The reforms were controversial and were brought forward with little consultation but were subsequently extensively debated in Parliament. During 2004, a select committee of the House of Lords scrutinised the arguments for and against setting up a new court. The Government estimated the set-up cost of the Supreme Court at £56.9 million.


Significant cases

The first case heard by the Supreme Court was '' HM Treasury v Ahmed'', which concerned "the separation of powers", according to Phillips, its inaugural President. At issue was the extent to which Parliament has, by the United Nations Act 1946, delegated to the executive the power to legislate. Resolution of this issue depended upon the approach properly to be adopted by the court in interpreting legislation which may affect fundamental rights at common law or under the European Convention on Human Rights. One of the most important cases presented to the Supreme Court was the joint cases of ''R (Miller) v The Prime Minister'' and ''Cherry v Advocate General for Scotland'', known as ''Miller/Cherry''. It is one of only two cases that involved the presence of 11 judges (the highest number of judges currently allowed to rule on a case). The case carried a large amount of political tension in the context of the process of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union; reactions to the ruling "delighted 'Remainers' but appalled 'Leavers.


Jurisdiction and powers

From the Supreme Court — For Scottish civil cases decided prior to September 2015, permission to appeal from the Court of Session was not required and any such case can proceed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom if two
advocates An advocate is a professional in the field of law. List of country legal systems, Different countries' legal systems use the term with somewhat differing meanings. The broad equivalent in many English law–based jurisdictions could be a barri ...
certify that an appeal is suitable. The entry into force of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 has essentially brought the procedure for current and future Scottish civil cases into line with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, where permission to appeal is required, either from the Court of Session or from a Justice of the Supreme Court itself. The Supreme Court's focus is on cases that raise points of law of general public importance. As with the former Appellate Committee of the House of Lords, appeals from many fields of law are likely to be selected for hearing, including commercial disputes, family matters, judicial review claims against public authorities and issues under the Human Rights Act 1998. The Supreme Court only exceptionally hears criminal appeals from the High Court of Justiciary (the criminal appeals court in Scotland) with respect to "devolution issues". The Supreme Court also determines "devolution issues" (as defined by the Scotland Act 1998, the
Northern Ireland Act 1998 __NOTOC__ The Northern Ireland Act 1998 is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which allowed Her Majesty's Government, Westminster to devolve power to Northern Ireland, after decades of Direct rule over Northern Irel ...
and the
Government of Wales Act 2006 The Government of Wales Act 2006 (c 32) is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the then-National Assembly for Wales (now the Senedd) and allows further powers to be granted to it more easily. The Act ...
). These are legal proceedings about the powers of the three devolved administrations—the
Northern Ireland Executive The Northern Ireland Executive is the devolution, devolved government of Northern Ireland, an administrative branch of the legislature – the Northern Ireland Assembly. It is answerable to the assembly and was initially established according ...
and
Northern Ireland Assembly sco-ulster, Norlin Airlan Assemblie , legislature = Seventh Assembly , coa_pic = File:NI_Assembly.svg , coa_res = 250px , house_type = Unicameral Unicameralism (from ''uni''- "one" + Latin ''came ...
, the Scottish Government and the
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; sco, Scots Pairlament) is the devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyrood area of the capital ...
, the
Welsh Government The Welsh Government ( cy, Llywodraeth Cymru) is the Welsh devolution, devolved government of Wales. The government consists of ministers and Minister (government), deputy ministers, and also of a Counsel General for Wales, counsel general. Minist ...
and
Senedd The Senedd (; ), officially known as the Welsh Parliament in English language, English and () in Welsh language, Welsh, is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, unicameral legislature of Wales. A democratically elected body, it makes ...
. Devolution issues were previously heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and most are about compliance with rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, brought into national law by the Devolution Acts and the Human Rights Act 1998. On rare occasions the court may have original jurisdiction, normally in cases relating to contempt of the Supreme Court such as, " Proceedings for Contempt: Mr Tim Crosland" and its appeal case "HM Attorney General v Crosland".


Panels and sittings

The twelve justices do not all hear every case. Unless there are circumstances requiring a larger panel, a case is usually heard by a panel of five justices. More than five justices may sit on a panel where the case is of "high constitutional importance" or "great public importance"; if the case raises "an important point in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights"; if the case involves a conflict of decisions among the House of Lords,
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (United Kingdom), Privy Council (JCPC) is the Supreme court, highest court of appeal for the Crown Dependencies, the British Overseas Territories, some Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth countries ...
, or Supreme Court; or if the Court "is being asked to depart, or may decide to depart from" its previous precedent. The composition of panels is ultimately determined by the President. To avoid a tie, all cases are heard by a panel containing an odd number of justices. Thus, the largest possible panel for a case is 11 justices. To date, there have been only two occasions (both involving matters of major constitutional importance) heard by 11 justices: the case of '' R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union'' (argued in 2016 and decided in 2017) and the cases of ''R (Miller) v The Prime Minister'' and ''Cherry v Advocate General for Scotland'' (argued and decided in 2019).


Administration

The Supreme Court has a separate administration from the other courts of the United Kingdom, under a Chief Executive who is appointed by the Court's president.


Other "supreme courts" in the United Kingdom

In Scotland, the High Court of Justiciary, the Court of Session, and the Office of the Accountant of Court make up the
College of Justice The College of Justice includes the Supreme Courts of Scotland, and its associated bodies. The constituent bodies of the national supreme courts are the Court of Session, the High Court of Justiciary, the Office of the Accountant of Court, and ...
, and are known as the Supreme Courts of Scotland. The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court in Scotland. Prior to 1 October 2009, there were two other courts known as "the supreme court", namely the Supreme Court of England and Wales (known as "the Supreme Court of Judicature", prior to the passing and coming-into-force of the Senior Courts Act 1981), which was created in the 1870s under the
Judicature Acts In History of the courts of England and Wales, the history of the courts of England and Wales, the Judicature Acts were a series of Act of Parliament, Acts of Parliament, beginning in the 1870s, which aimed to fuse the hitherto split system of ...
, and the Supreme Court of Judicature of Northern Ireland, both of which consisted of a
Court of Appeal A court of appeals, also called a court of appeal, appellate court, appeal court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In much of t ...
, a
High Court of Justice The High Court of Justice in London, known properly as His Majesty's High Court of Justice in England, together with the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, are the Courts of England and Wales, Senior Cou ...
and a
Crown Court The Crown Court is the court of first instance of England and Wales responsible for hearing all Indictable offence, indictable offences, some Hybrid offence, either way offences and appeals lied to it by the Magistrates' court, magistrates' court ...
. When the provisions of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 came into force these became known as the
Senior Courts of England and Wales The courts of England and Wales, supported administratively by His Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, are the Civil law (common law), civil and Criminal law, criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in England and Wales ...
and the Court of Judicature of Northern Ireland respectively. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council also retains
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. Jur ...
over certain matters. By Section 4 of the Judicial Committee Act 1833, the Sovereign may refer any matter whatsoever to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to provide advice, although this does not confer judicial authority. The judicial functions of the House of Lords have all been abolished, other than the trial of impeachments, a procedure which has been obsolete for 200 years.


Judges

The court is composed of the
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese ful ...
and Deputy President and ten other Justices of the Supreme Court, all with the style of "''Justices of the Supreme Court''" under section 23(6) of the Constitutional Reform Act. The President and Deputy President of the court are separately appointed to those roles. The ten
Lords of Appeal in Ordinary Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, commonly known as Law Lords, were judges appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 to the British House of Lords, as a committee of the House, effectively to exercise the judicial functions of the House of ...
(Law Lords) holding office on 1 October 2009 became the first judges of the twelve-member Supreme Court. The eleventh place on the Supreme Court was filled by Lord Clarke (formerly the
Master of the Rolls The Keeper or Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England, known as the Master of the Rolls, is the President of the Court of Appeal (England and Wales)#Civil Division, Civil Division of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales a ...
), who was the first justice to be appointed directly to the Supreme Court. One of the former Law Lords, Lord Neuberger, was appointed to replace Clarke as Master of the Rolls, and so did not move to the new court. Lord Dyson became the twelfth and final judge of the Supreme Court on 13 April 2010. In 2010, Queen
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until Death and state funeral of Elizabeth II, her death in 2022. She was queen ...
granted justices who are not peers use of the title Lord or Lady, by warrant under the
royal sign-manual The royal sign-manual is the signature of the sovereign, by the affixing of which the monarch expresses his or her pleasure either by order, commission, or warrant (law), warrant. A sign-manual warrant may be either an executive act (for example, ...
. The Senior Law Lord on 1 October 2009, Lord Phillips, became the Supreme Court's first President, and the Second Senior Law Lord, Lord Hope, became the first Deputy President. On 30 September 2010 Lord Saville became the first justice to retire, followed by Lord Collins on 7 May 2011, although the latter remained as an acting judge until the end of July 2011. In June 2011 Lord Rodger became the first justice to die in office, after a short illness.


Acting judges

In addition to the twelve permanent judges, the President may request other senior judges drawn from two groups to sit as "acting judges" of the Supreme Court. * The first group are those judges who currently hold 'office as a senior territorial judge': judges of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, judges of the Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland and judges of the First or Second Division of the Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland. * The second group are known as the 'supplementary panel'. The President may approve in writing retired judges' membership of this panel if they are under 75 and are (a) former supreme court justices or (b) former 'senior territorial judges'. A list of those currently appointed is to be found on the Supreme Court website. (The system is similar to
senior status Senior status is a form of semi-retirement for United States federal judges. To qualify, a judge in the Federal judiciary of the United States, federal court system must be at least 65 years old, and the sum of the judge's age and years of servi ...
in the United States Federal Courts of Appeal, although there are important differences: for example, a judge on the supplementary panel does not receive a salary).


Qualification for appointment

Section 25 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 details the necessary requirements for a person to be eligible for appointment to the Court. A person is qualified for appointment if they have, at any time: * held high judicial office for a period of at least 2 years or * been a qualified practitioner for at least 15 years. To hold high judicial office includes; being a High Court Judge of England and Wales, or of
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is #Descriptions, variously described as ...
; a Court of Appeal Judge of England and Wales, or of Northern Ireland; or a Judge on the Court of Sessions. A person is a qualified practitioner if they are an advocate in Scotland or a
solicitor A solicitor is a legal practitioner who traditionally deals with most of the legal matters in some jurisdictions. A person must have Admission to practice law, legally-defined qualifications, which vary from one jurisdiction to another, to be des ...
entitled to appear in the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary; or a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland or a solicitor of the Court of Judicature of Northern Ireland.


Appointment process

The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 makes provision for a new appointment process for Justices of the Supreme Court. An independent selection commission is to be formed when vacancies arise. This is to be composed of the President of the Supreme Court (the chair), another senior UK judge (not a Supreme Court Justice), and a member of the Judicial Appointments Commission of England and Wales, the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland and the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission. By law, at least one of these cannot be a lawyer. However, there is a similar but separate commission to appoint the next President of the Supreme Court, which is chaired by one of the non-lawyer members and features another Supreme Court Justice in the place of the President. Both of these commissions are convened by the
Lord Chancellor The lord chancellor, formally the lord high chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking traditional minister among the Great Officers of State (United Kingdom), Great Officers of State in Scotland and England in the United Kingdom, no ...
. In October 2007, the Ministry of Justice announced that the appointment process would be adopted on a voluntary basis for appointments of
Lords of Appeal in Ordinary Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, commonly known as Law Lords, were judges appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 to the British House of Lords, as a committee of the House, effectively to exercise the judicial functions of the House of ...
. The commission selects one person for the vacancy and notifies the Lord Chancellor of its choice. The Lord Chancellor then either * approves the commission's selection * rejects the commission's selection, or * asks the commission to reconsider its selection. If the Lord Chancellor approves the person selected by the commission, the Prime Minister must then recommend that person to the Monarch for appointment. New judges appointed to the Supreme Court after its creation will not necessarily receive peerages; however, they are given the
courtesy title A courtesy title is a title that does not have legal significance but rather is used through custom or courtesy, particularly, in the context of nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), ...
of Lord or Lady upon appointment. The President and Deputy President are appointed to those roles rather than being the most senior by tenure in office.


List of current judges


Overseas work

The UK Supreme Court has since its inception sent some of its justices to sit on Hong Kong's top court, the Court of Final Appeal. This practice was established when the Court of Final Appeal was first set up in 1997, and before the founding of the UK Supreme Court, when the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
was still the final appellate court in the UK. When British justices sit on the top court of Hong Kong, they are required by law to take the judicial oath with the pledge of allegiance to the
Hong Kong SAR Hong Kong ( (US) or (UK); , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (abbr. Hong Kong SAR or HKSAR), is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special ...
of the
People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
. Because of that, they are not "overseas judges" as many mistakenly assume. They become local Hong Kong judges themselves. Along with their oaths taken to be justices of the UK Supreme Court, these judges owe a double allegiance and serve on the top courts of both jurisdictions at the same time. The participation of UK Supreme Court's justices in Hong Kong's judiciary is highly welcomed by the
Hong Kong government The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, commonly known as the Hong Kong Government or HKSAR Government, refers to the Executive (government), executive authorities of Hong Kong Special administrative regions of China, ...
because it helps bolster the international reputation of the courts in Hong Kong. However, there have been calls advocating the discontinuation of this practice since the implementation of the controversial national security law in Hong Kong by China in July 2020. More specifically, members from both Houses of Parliament across the political spectrum have on various occasions either called for the termination of this practice or questioned the appropriateness of it. In June 2021, Baroness Brenda Hale, former president of the UK Supreme Court, announced her decision not to seek reappointment on the Hong Kong court after the end of her term in July while mentioning the impact of the national security law. She became the first senior British judge to quit Hong Kong's top court after the enactment of the security law. Amid the controversy, in August 2021, Lord Reed issued a statement certifying that Hong Kong's judiciary "continues to act largely independently of government". However, about three months later, the US-China Commission submitted its annual report to
US Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, composed of a lower body, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, and an upper body, ...
detailing China's situation. In the report, not only did the Commission explicitly state that the independence of Hong Kong's judiciary existed “in name only”, in direct conflict with Lord Reed's certification, but also questioned whether or not overseas judges, including British judges, serving on Hong Kong's top court could still protect the rule of law in Hong Kong. In a statement issued on 30 March 2022, the Foreign Secretary announced that the UK Government could no longer endorse British current judges sitting on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, saying to do otherwise "would risk legitimising oppression". Soon after the government's announcement, on the same day, the president and deputy president of the UK Supreme Court, Lord Reed and Lord Hodge, tendered their resignations as judges of the Hong Kong court. As of 30 March 2022, six retired British justices continue to sit on Hong Kong's top court.


Building

The court is housed in Middlesex Guildhall—which it shares with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council—in the
City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London. It is the site of the United Kingdom's Houses of Parliament and much of the British government. It occupies a large area of cent ...
. The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 gave time for a suitable building to be found and fitted out before the Law Lords moved out of the
Houses of Parliament The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the ...
, where they had previously used a series of rooms in the Palace of Westminster. After a lengthy survey of suitable sites, including
Somerset House Somerset House is a large Neoclassicism, Neoclassical complex situated on the south side of the Strand, London, Strand in central London, overlooking the River Thames, just east of Waterloo Bridge. The Georgian era quadrangle was built on the ...
, the Government announced that the new court would be at the Middlesex Guildhall, in
Parliament Square Parliament Square is a town square, square at the northwest end of the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster in central London. Laid out in the 19th century, it features a large open green area in the centre with trees to its west, ...
, Westminster. That decision was examined by the Constitutional Affairs Committee, and the grant of planning permission by Westminster City Council for refurbishment works was challenged in a
judicial review Judicial review is a process under which executive, legislative and administrative actions are subject to review by the judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and cou ...
by the conservation group
Save Britain's Heritage Save Britain's Heritage (styled as ''SAVE Britain's Heritage'') is a British Charitable organization, charity, created in 1975 by a group of journalists, historians, architects, and planners to campaign publicly for endangered historic buildings. ...
. It was also reported that
English Heritage English Heritage (officially the English Heritage Trust) is a charity that manages over 400 historic monuments, buildings and places. These include prehistoric sites, medieval castles, Roman forts and country houses. The charity states that i ...
had been put under great pressure to approve the alterations. Feilden + Mawson, supported by Foster & Partners, were the appointed architects, with Kier Group appointed as main contractor. The building had been used as the Middlesex
Quarter Sessions The courts of quarter sessions or quarter sessions were local courts traditionally held at four set times each year in the Kingdom of England from 1388 (extending also to Wales following the Laws in Wales Act 1535). They were also established in ...
House, and the headquarters of the
Middlesex County Council Middlesex County Council was the principal local government body in the administrative counties of England, administrative county of Middlesex from 1889 to 1965. The county council was created by the Local Government Act 1888, which also remove ...
. Following the abolition of the council in 1965, its former council chamber became a courtroom, which is now Court One, the principal courtroom. In 1972 the building became a
Crown Court The Crown Court is the court of first instance of England and Wales responsible for hearing all Indictable offence, indictable offences, some Hybrid offence, either way offences and appeals lied to it by the Magistrates' court, magistrates' court ...
centre.


Badge

The official badge of the Supreme Court was granted by the
College of Arms The College of Arms, or Heralds' College, is a royal corporation consisting of professional Officer of Arms, officers of arms, with jurisdiction over England, Wales, Northern Ireland and some Commonwealth realms. The heralds are appointed by the ...
in October 2008. It comprises both the Greek letter
omega Omega (; capital letter, capital: Ω, lower case, lowercase: ω; Ancient Greek ὦ, later ὦ μέγα, Modern Greek ωμέγα) is the twenty-fourth and final letter in the Greek alphabet. In the Greek numerals, Greek numeric system/isopsephy ...
(representing finality) and the symbol of Libra (symbolising the scales of justice), in addition to the four floral emblems of the United Kingdom: a
Tudor rose The Tudor rose (sometimes called the Union rose) is the traditional floral heraldic emblem of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its we ...
, representing England, conjoined with the leaves of a
leek The leek is a vegetable, a cultivar of ''Allium ampeloprasum'', the broadleaf wild leek (synonym (taxonomy), syn. ''Allium porrum''). The edible part of the plant is a bundle of leaf sheaths that is sometimes erroneously called a plant stem, s ...
, representing Wales; a
flax Flax, also known as common flax or linseed, is a flowering plant, ''Linum usitatissimum'', in the family Linaceae. It is cultivated as a food and fiber crop in regions of the world with temperate climates. Textiles made from flax are known in W ...
(or 'lint') blossom for Northern Ireland; and a
thistle Thistle is the common name of a group of flowering plants characterised by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins, mostly in the family Asteraceae. Prickles can also occur all over the planton the stem and on the flat parts of the leaves. ...
, representing Scotland. Two adapted versions of its official badge are used by the Supreme Court. One features the words "The Supreme Court" and the letter omega in black (in the official badge granted by the College of Arms, the interior of the Latin and Greek letters are gold and white, respectively), and displays a simplified version of the crown (also in black) and larger, stylised versions of the floral emblems; this modified version of the badge is featured on the new Supreme Court website, as well as in the forms that will be used by the Supreme Court. A further variant omits the crown entirely and is featured prominently throughout the building. Another emblem is formed from a more abstract set of depictions of the four floral emblems and is used in the carpets of the Middlesex Guildhall designed by Sir Peter Blake, creator of such works as the cover of
The Beatles The Beatles were an English Rock music, rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960, that comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They are regarded as the Cultural impact of the Beatles, most influential band of al ...
' 1967 album, '' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band''.


See also

* Courts of the United Kingdom **
Courts of England and Wales The courts of England and Wales, supported administratively by His Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, are the Civil law (common law), civil and Criminal law, criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in England and Wales ...
** Courts of Northern Ireland ** Courts of Scotland * Judgments of the Supreme Court, by year: **
2009 File:2009 Events Collage V2.png, From top left, clockwise: The vertical stabilizer of Air France Flight 447 is pulled out from the Atlantic Ocean; Barack Obama becomes the first African American to become President of the United States; 2009 Iran ...
,
2010 File:2010 Events Collage New.png, From top left, clockwise: The 2010 Chile earthquake was one of the strongest recorded in history; The 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull, Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland disrupts air travel in Europe; A ...
,
2011 File:2011 Events Collage.png, From top left, clockwise: a protester partaking in Occupy Wall Street heralds the beginning of the Occupy movement; protests against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who Assassination of Muammar Gaddafi, was killed tha ...
,
2012 File:2012 Events Collage V3.png, From left, clockwise: The passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia lies capsized after the Costa Concordia disaster; Damage to Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey as a result of Hurricane Sandy; People gather ...
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2013 File:2013 Events Collage V2.png, From left, clockwise: Edward Snowden becomes internationally famous for leaking classified NSA wiretapping information; Typhoon Haiyan kills over 6,000 in the Philippines and Southeast Asia; The Dhaka garment facto ...
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2014 File:2014 Events Collage.png, From top left, clockwise: Stocking up supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the Western African Ebola virus epidemic; Citizens examining the ruins after the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping; Bundles of wat ...
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2015 File:2015 Events Collage new.png, From top left, clockwise: Civil service in remembrance of November 2015 Paris attacks; Germanwings Flight 9525 was purposely crashed into the French Alps; the rubble of residences in Kathmandu following the April ...
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2016 File:2016 Events Collage.png, From top left, clockwise: Bombed-out buildings in Ankara following the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt; the Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, impeachment trial of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff; Damaged houses duri ...
, 2017, 2018,
2019 File:2019 collage v1.png, From top left, clockwise: Hong Kong protests turn to widespread riots and civil disobedience; House of Representatives votes to adopt articles of impeachment against Donald Trump; CRISPR gene editing first used to experim ...
, 2020, 2021 * List of House of Lords cases * UKSCblog


References


Further reading

* * * Morgan, Derek (ed). ''Constitutional Innovation: the creation of a Supreme Court for the United Kingdom'' (A special issue of the ''Legal Studies'', the Journal of the Society of Legal Scholars). *


External links

* * * {{Authority control United K 2009 establishments in the United Kingdom Non-ministerial departments of the Government of the United Kingdom Courts and tribunals established in 2009