Supreme Court move separates Parliament from judiciary

Judges who preside over the highest court in the land will become Justices of the Supreme Court today, losing their time-honoured tenure of the House of Lords.

They will be sworn in at a ceremony when the new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom comes into existence, replacing the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords.



It will mark a landmark moment in constitutional and legal development, separating Parliament from the judiciary at its highest level.



But some lawyers believe it is also a giant step towards creating an elected House of Lords.



Paul Stone, senior partner with solicitors DLA Piper, said although the creation of the Supreme Court will move the Law Lords out of the House of Lords in legal terms it will not change much apart from where they sit.



"The fear that their distance from the House may lead to issues like those in the United States where independence allows them demonstrably to flex their muscles is not supported by enough compelling evidence to suggest it is actually a risk.



"Of greater significance - and something that has been largely overlooked - is that moving the Law Lords out of the House of Lords will mean that their input into Parliamentary Committees and the scrutiny and perspective they bring may be lost.



"Furthermore, moving the Law Lords out of the House would remove one of the major barricades to creating an elected House of Lords, which Jack Straw is keen on doing.



"So, the creation of a new Supreme Court could be less about a change in the way our legal system operates and more about a potential shift towards a massive change in our Parliamentary structure."



The new home of the Supreme Court is the former Middlesex Guildhall, on Parliament Square. It has been painstakingly renovated over the past two years but many original features have been restored and brought back to full splendour.



Established through the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the Supreme Court will hear civil appeal cases from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, as well as criminal appeal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.



It takes over the devolution jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC). The JCPC continues to be the final court of appeal for certain Commonwealth countries and other jurisdictions, such as Crown Dependencies.



For the first time at any court in the United Kingdom, proceedings will be routinely filmed and made available to broadcasters.



The building is open to the public during working hours.



Following the swearing in this morning, the Justices will take part in the annual procession in their robes to Westminster Abbey to attend the annual service that marks the start of the new legal year in England and Wales.



They will be joined by judges from the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand and will then attend the Lord Chancellor's breakfast in the Great Hall in the Houses of Parliament.



Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, president of the Supreme Court, said: "For the first time, we have a clear separation of powers between the legislature, the judiciary and the executive in the United Kingdom. This is important. It emphasises the independence of the judiciary, clearly separating those who make the law from those who administer it.



"As Justices of the Supreme Court we will be more visible to the public than we ever were when sitting as members of the House of Lords. This is desirable as the court will only decide points of law of public importance.



"Justice at the highest level should be transparent and the new Court will have a crucial role in letting the public see how justice is done."



Jenny Rowe, chief executive of the Supreme Court, said: "The establishment of the Supreme Court is an important historic moment.



"The improvements and modernisation that this brings creates exciting new opportunities to show the wider public how justice is done at the highest level, to increase awareness of the UK's legal systems and the impact the law has on people's lives."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Recruitment Genius: HP Technical Support Analyst

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding IT Manag...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst

£400 - £500 per day: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Logistics/WMS - Immedia...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000

£34000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Bus...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable