Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Websites: The Judiciary and the Supreme Court

The judiciary of England and Wales have a website. It is well worth a look. You will find out a great deal of information about the judiciary. The website also contains links to many judgments and official reports.

When asked in a quiz - "What is the highest court in the land" the answer always was "The House of Lords." A more legalistic answer would have been - "The Appellate Committee of the House of Lords." This is no longer the correct answer! Since October 2009, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has come into being and has taken over the judicial role previously held by the House of Lords. Unlike its illustrious predecessor, the new court is far more media friendly and keeps its own website. Have a look. It is interesting.


  1. Shurely the correct answer is the European Court of Justice...

  2. The question included the phrase "...in the land". The ECJ is in a foreign land.

    As for the Supreme Court - I can't help but feel that the government saw the Americans had a Supreme Court and decided they wanted one so renamed the AC of the HoL. I'll believe our SC is a bona fide institution in its own right when its members stop being lords/ladies.

    And the actual highest court in the land is HM the Queen since all the other courts derive their authority from her.

  3. And the actual highest court in the land is HM the Queen since all the other courts derive their authority from her.

    Thereby missing the point of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the Bill of Rights 1689...

  4. 'Course, when I qualified in 1986 I was admitted as 'A Solcitor of the Supreme Court of Judicature of England and Wales' - ah, those were the days!!

  5. The right to administer justice stems from the Crown which is personified by HM The Queen. Since the case of Prohibitions del Roy 1607, no Monarch has attempted to sit in the courts. James I was tactfully informed that cases were to be decided by the reasoning of the law, mastery of which took many years.

    The interesting history of the House of Lords as a court may be read here.

    As the post states, the House of Lords has now be superseded by the Supreme Court. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is almost, though not exactly, the same as that previously exercised by the House of Lords – see here.

    The Court of Justice of the European Union (as it is known since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force on 1st December 2009) ensures that “the law is observed” “in the interpretation and application" of the Treaties. The court reviews the legality of the acts of the institutions of the European Union; ensures that the Member States comply with obligations under the Treaties, and interprets European Union law at the request of the national courts and tribunals. The Court thus constitutes the judicial authority of the European Union and, in cooperation with the courts and tribunals of the Member States, it ensures the uniform application and interpretation of European Union law. This court is based at Luxembourg. The EU has 27 member states.

    The European Court of Human Rights is based at Strasbourg.

    This court ensures the observance by Council of Europe States of the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950). The Council of Europe is not the same international body as the EU and has 47 member states.

    The United Kingdom accepts the jurisdiction of these courts. The Court of Justice of the EU is recognised in English law because of the European Communities Act 1972. The European Court of Human Rights is recognised because (a) the UK is bound in international law by the convention which the UK signed and (b) the Human Rights Act 1998 requires English courts to take into account decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and also – “So far as it is possible to do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights.”