Sunday 12 March 2017

A Trilogy of Speeches

Lord Neuberger (President of the Supreme Court) delivered the Neill Lecture at Oxford on 10th February 2017.  He retires this year and the selection process for his successor is well underway.  The Supreme Court was created by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and replaced the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords.   Lord Neuberger was a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary from 2007 to 2009 and became Master of the Rolls on 1st October 2009.  In 2012 he was appointed President of the Supreme Court and, under his leadership, the Supreme Court has developed a remarkable degree of public acceptance largely because of the ways in which it communicates with the general public through televised hearings, prompt publication of judgments and press releases on the court website.  The handing down of judgments also appears on Facebook.  Additionally, members of the court are frequent guest speakers and the content of their speeches is always of considerable interest not only to lawyers but to the public.  Lord Neuberger's speech at Oxford is no exception and it may be read at - "20 years a judge: Reflections and Refractions" - Neill Lecture, Oxford Law Facility 10th February 2017.

On 13th February, Lord Mance delivered a lecture at King's College London.  His subject was International Law in the Supreme Court and he summarised the ways in which international law impacts on cases heard by the court.  The speech touches upon many of the interesting - and, sometimes, controversial - cases of recent times.

The third speech is again by Lord Mance - The Role of Judges in a Representative Democracy - and was delivered in the Bahamas on 24th February 2017.  The important role of the judiciary is discussed and Lord Mance considered how it relates to the roles of the Executive and the Legislature.  He also spoke about recent attacks on the judiciary by elements in the popular media - notably, the "Enemies of the People" comment by the Daily Mail.

"The Daily Mail reacted to the High Court’s judgment in Miller (later upheld in the Supreme Court)by putting a picture of the three High Court judges on its front page with the caption Enemies of the People, and the Mail Online – at least initially, and deplorably – referred to the publicly acknowledged homosexuality of one of them. Happily, by 24 January 2017 when we gave our judgment, things had calmed down. The furthest the Daily Mail then went was a photo of the three dissentients captioned Champions of the People, which was even quite witty!"

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