Documents to download

The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom. It hears appeals from the whole of the United Kingdom in civil cases, and for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in criminal cases. Additionally, the Supreme Court hears cases on devolution matters. Before the Supreme Court was established its functions were performed by the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Supreme Court is provided for by part 3 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 which was brought into force on 1 October 2009, establishing the Supreme Court from that date. The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 provides for twelve judges of the Supreme Court, including a President and Deputy President. A recruitment round is currently underway to fill three vacancies, and the announcement of the successful candidates is expected in July 2017. In addition, three further Justices will reach retirement age in 2018. This forthcoming significant turnover has led to increased focus on a perceived lack of diversity among judges of the Supreme Court, as well as debate about the suitability of the current retirement age of 70.

Other recent developments concern the Supreme Court’s future role with regard to EU law and human rights. At present, the Court can ask the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to rule on certain questions regarding European Union law. The Government has proposed that when the UK leaves the EU the Supreme Court should take account of ECJ judgments issued before its withdrawal and should not take account of judgments concerning laws passed after this date. With regard to human rights, if an individual considers that their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights have not been respected by a decision of a UK court they may bring a claim before the European Court of Human Rights. At the 2015 general election, the Conservatives had pledged to “make our own Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK” but have since said “we will remain signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights for the duration of the next parliament”.

Documents to download

Related posts

  • Medicinal and agrochemical products can be granted a Supplementary Protection Certificate, an intellectual property right associated with patents, to provide up to five years of additional rights and protections once their patents have expired. In order to apply for an SPC, a product must receive approval to be sold on the UK market. Under the Northern Ireland/Ireland Protocol, products to be sold in Northern Ireland must obtain approval under EU law, whilst products to be sold in the rest of the UK will obtain approval under UK law. Currently, this marketing authorisation is only given on a UK-wide basis. This regulation amends the market authorisation process to enable authorisations to be granted for the Northern Ireland market only and for the Great Britain market only.

  • The regulation of product safety, and weights and measures, is based on EU law. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 brings this EU law into UK statute, so that it will continue to have effect after the end of the transition period. Amendments since have made to enable this framework to operate smoothly in the UK, and added provisions such as a UK conformity mark. This article looks at a further statutory instrument that amends retained EU law in the area, particularly in light of the Northern Ireland Protocol.