27 Sep 2009

Goodbye House of Lords, Welcome United Kingdom Supreme Court

The father of all courts and perhaps also the oldest-highest court on the planet, the Appellate Committee of House of Lords stopped functioning on 31st of July this year and would now be replaced by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom coming October. Giving Political Scientists a reason to rethink, United Kingdom finally has separated the judicial and legislative functions which earlier merged in the House of Lords, which performed the dual function of being a part of the legislative wing as well and also hearing cases as the highest court of appeal in the country.

Undone by the Constitutional Reform Act passed by the British Parliament in 2005, the Supreme Court for United Kingdom will take over from Michaelmas term and had already announced its sittings for the coming months, effectively starting from the 5th of October this year. The Supreme Court will now be the highest court of appeal for all matters of English Law, Welsh Law, and Northern Irish Law. 

Though in actual practice the judicial functions and legislative functions were separated in the House of Lords (with the members of the judicial committee not attending the sessions of Parliament), yet the main reason of the shift was the argument based on the concept of  'Seperation of Powers'. The proposal to shift were first formally introduced by the British Government in 2003 and thereafter were extensively discussed and debated both in public as well on the houses of the Parliament. Upon consideration of all these fronts, decision was taken to move on and leave behind its historical awe. 

The Court would be comprised on 12 judges appointed by Her Majesty by letters patent (a formal charter). In the new set-up, initially the former Law Lords will dawn the benches as the Justices of the Supreme Court with Lord Phillips the former Lord Chief Justice becoming the President of the Supreme Court. Thereafter the judges would be appointed by this procedure. 

The Supreme Court has been given its own separate building (and will not be housed like earlier in the Parliament itself) and is expected more to be open for public viewing unlike the earlier forum. The Court has already notified the procedure to be followed, directions for practice before it etc. on its official website (glad that it has one). 

Welcome Supreme Court ... :)

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