The introduction of a Supreme Court for the United Kingdom will provide greater clarity in our constitutional arrangements by further separating the judiciary from the legislature and the executive. It will assume the jurisdiction of the current Appellate Committee of the House of Lords and the devolution jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
On 26 March 2007 a Judicial Review of Westminster City Council's decision to grant listed building and planning consent at Middlesex Guildhall was heard at the Administrative Court. The case was brought by SAVE Britain’s Heritage against Westminster City Council. English Heritage and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (the legal owner of Middlesex Guildhall) were named as interested parties. The Judicial Review was about whether there was an error in law in the way that Westminster City Council reached its decision. It was about the process; not about the content of the application.
Mr Justice Collins dismissed the case the following day and awarded costs to Westminster City Council. Save Britain’s Heritage have not appealed the judge’s decision, the 21-day period to appeal expired on 16 April 2007.
A second planning application, submitted by the Lord Chancellor on 1 March 2007 to reduce the possibility of delay to the Programme, will be withdrawn once the conditions of the first planning permission have been approved by Westminster City Council.
In July 2003 we carried out a public consultation to gather views on the form and responsibilities of the proposed UK Supreme Court. Many of those we consulted from the judiciary, legal professions and the public provided feedback during this process.
The Supreme Court consultation document
Supreme Court consultation responses
The Supreme Court will:
The current Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (the Law Lords) will be the first justices of the 12-member Supreme Court and will remain members of the House of Lords once the court is created. The Constitutional Reform Act makes provision for a new appointments process for Justices of the Supreme Court. A selection commission will be formed when vacancies arise. This will be composed of the President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court and members of the appointment bodies for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All new judges appointed to the Supreme Court after its creation will not be members of the House of Lords; they will become Justices of the Supreme Court.
More about the Law Lords
In 2004 we undertook a comprehensive evaluation of a number of buildings within central London. After thorough consideration, Middlesex Guildhall was chosen, as the preferred location.
Locating the UK Supreme Court on Parliament Square, opposite the Houses of Parliament and alongside Westminster Abbey and the Treasury Building, will symbolise the Supreme Court as a cornerstone of our constitutional rights in this country.
Establishing the UK Supreme Court at Middlesex Guildhall offers an exciting opportunity to reinvigorate an historic London building.
Middlesex Guildhall is at present an operational Crown Court and will close on 30 March 2007. To minimise the impact on the performance of the criminal justice system we will build extra courtrooms at Isleworth Crown Court Centre. We have transition plans in place to ensure the number of sitting days across London stay the same until the extra courtrooms are available.
Middlesex Guildhall is a Grade II* listed building. Our aim is to create suitable, yet imaginative, accommodation for the Supreme Court, while respecting its historic architectural importance.
Our design team, led by Feilden and Mawson and supported by Foster & Partners, has developed refurbishment plans that conserves the fabric of the building while allowing a modern working environment suitable for the UK Supreme Court. The design has been developed in close consultation with the future residents of the Supreme Court building - the Law Lords and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC).
Our design offers an exciting opportunity to reinvigorate an historic London building by retaining and restoring some of its original features and introducing some that are new.
The main changes to the building are to:
The UK Supreme Court is scheduled to open in October 2009.
As a new and independent institution the UK Supreme Court will require finely tuned business processes and procedures. In consultation with the Law Lords, we are delivering the rules for the Court, developing an organisation structure and defining a distinctive identity for the Court. The Court will be a statutory body in its own right, which will be headed by a Chief Executive. The Chief Executive will be the Chief Accounting Officer and responsible for all non-judicial functions of the Supreme Court.
On 12 January 2007 the Senior Law Lord, Lord Bingham, sought comments on the draft UK Supreme Court Rules. If you wish to comment, a copy of the draft UK Supreme Court and consultation paper are available on the parliamentary website between 10 January and 10 April 2007.