Senior judge warns over new Supreme Court

The creation of a Supreme Court for the UK verges on "frivolous" tinkering with the constitution which may have dangerous unintended consequences, a senior judge warned today.

Former Law Lord Lord Neuberger, who declined to move to the Supreme Court and has instead been appointed Master of the Rolls, said the far-reaching change to the legal system appeared to have been dreamt up "over a glass of whisky" by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.



And the Lord Chancellor who oversaw the establishment of the court, Lord Falconer, said he expected senior judges to be "bolder" in their protection of the liberties of the individual than they were when they formed part of the Houses of Parliament.



The Supreme Court, based in the Middlesex Guildhall in Parliament Square, will next month become the highest court of appeal in the UK judicial system, a role formerly played by the Law Lords sitting as a committee of the House of Lords.



In the BBC Radio 4 programme Top Dogs, being broadcast today, Lord Falconer predicted that the change of venue will lead to a change in the way the judges do their work.



"I believe that having a separate place for the UK judiciary to have its home will mean that the Supreme Court will be bolder in vindicating both the freedoms of individuals and, coupled with that, being willing to take on the executive," said Lord Falconer.



But Lord Neuberger warned of unintended consequences: "To change... the Law Lords into the Supreme Court as a result of what appears to have been a last-minute decision over a glass of whisky seems to me to verge on the frivolous.



"The danger is you muck around with a constitution at your peril, because you don't know what the consequences of any change will be."



Mr Blair's announcement six years ago of plans to create a Supreme Court surprised many judges, who had not been consulted in advance.



Then-Home Secretary David Blunkett told the programme it might have been better to consult the judges, but that this was not thought to be possible because the change was opposed by then Lord Chancellor Lord (Derry) Irvine, Mr Blair's mentor from his days as a barrister. Mr Blair announced the replacement of Lord Irvine by Lord Falconer at the same time as he unveiled plans for a Supreme Court.



Mr Blunkett said: "How could we (consult) with Derry sitting there? He did think he was Tony's foster-uncle and, given his history back in chambers, he was invincible. But we all find out in time that we are not."



However, Lord Turnbull, who was Cabinet Secretary at the time plans for the Supreme Court were first developed, rejected suggestions that the change was drawn up in a slapdash fashion.



"It has been alleged that this was all thought up on the back of a fag packet," Lord Turnbull told the programme. "This is entirely wrong.



"The Prime Minister was clear that this was something he wanted to do and he also knew that it would be very difficult to achieve with Lord Irvine in place, because he was not enthusiastic about it."



Baroness Hale, one of the new Supreme Court judges, backed the creation of the new court: "I don't think we should be part of the Houses of Parliament.



"They do an important job. We do an important job. I prefer to do it in something which is known to the world to be a court, properly designed as a court, open to the public as a court, communicating as a court communicates."

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence