Monday, 1 October 2012

The legal year commences ~ formalities

The 2012-13 Legal Year commenced today with the traditional Judges Service at Westminster Abbey followed by "the Lord Chancellor's breakfast" in Westminster Hall - see Ministry of Justice .  The Ministry of Justice website informs us that - "The Lord Chancellor wore formal dress, alongside Judges and QC’s who were dressed in ceremonial robes."

The new Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr Chris Grayling MP) was sworn in and took the oath laid down in the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 section 17- (CRA).  The oath has to be taken "as soon as may be after his acceptance of office."

Earlier, the new President of the Supreme Court - Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury - was sworn as a Justice of the Supreme Court in at a short ceremony held in Court 1 of the Supreme Court building.  Lord Hope - the court's Deputy President presided at the ceremony.  Lord Neuberger had not previously been a Justice of the Supreme Court though he served as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary from January 2007 to September 2009 and then became Master of the Rolls.  However, Lord Neuberger has sat occasionally in the Supreme Court as an "acting justice" - for example in Manchester City Council v Pinnock [2010] UKSC 45 where he delivered the court's judgment - (The court comprised 9 justices). 

"Acting Justices" may be appointed under CRA 2005 s.38 - and are chosen from judges of the Court of Appeal or the Scottish Court of Session Inner House or the Court of Appeal Northern Ireland.

Lord Neuberger took both the Oath of Allegiance and the Judicial Oath.

It was interesting to see that, once sworn in, Lord Hope (Deputy President) handed a large red case to Lord Neuberger and said - "Here are your Letters Patent."   Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by Her Majesty by Letters Patent.  The President and Deputy President hold separate Letters Patent appointing them to those offices.  On this see Constitutional Reform Act 2005 section 23 - 23(2) and 23(5).  Lord Neuberger will therefore have received two Letters Patent covering his appointments.

Lord Neuberger's successor as Master of the Rolls is Lord Dyson.  The Master of the Rolls is a judicial position extending well back in to legal history and a considerable number of distinguished lawyers have held this office.  Today, the Master of the Rolls is Head of Civil Justice and presides over the Court of Appeal (Civil Division).

Photographs of the Judges Service etc are here

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom - Welcome from Lord Neuberger

Mr Grayling MP (centre) with Lord Judge LCJ (left) and Lord Dyson MR

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