s.23 created the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. It has to have a minimum of 12 Justices (or "members"). The court held its first sitting on 1st October 2009 and the previous Lords of Appeal In Ordinary became the first members. The Act sets out a rather convoluted procedure for the appointment of new justices and, as part of this procedure, the Lord Chancellor has significant powers. He convenes
the Selection Commission, may give guidance to the Commission as to matters to be taken into account and, when the Commission makes a selection, he may, for example, ask the Commission to reconsider its selection.
It may surprise some to know that appointments do not have to be made from the ranks of existing judges. Barristers or Solicitors of 15 years standing are eligible to apply - (see s.25 for the qualification required). This mirrors the system which existed for appointments to the former House of Lords Judicial Committee.
In 2010, there was an advertisement for two new justices - "Information Pack: Vacancy for two Justices of the Supreme Court." A Selection Commission has been sitting to decide who the nominations will be. Out of the process will emerge two nominations to be presented to the Prime Minister who then recommends to Her Majesty the chosen names.
It is interesting to see in the Information Pack that the Commission would be looking not merely for legal ability but also qualities of social awareness and understanding of the contemporary world; an ability to work with colleagues, respecting their views, but also being able to challenge and debate in a constructive way; a willingness to participate in the wider representational role of a Supreme Court Justice (e.g. delivering lectures, participating in conferences, talking to students and other groups) and vision, coupled with an appreciation of the role of the Court in contributing to the development of the law.
There has been a certain amount of speculation as to who the latest appointees are likely to be. An announcement is expected in the very near future.
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
Courtesy Titles for Justices of the Supreme Court
Justices and Confirmation Hearings?
Addendum 30th March: Writing in The Guardian 29th March, Dr Erika Rackley (Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Durham) argues that "We need a more diverse Supreme Court."