Appointment of Justices (2012-2013)

The Supreme Court was very sorry to say goodbye to Lord Brown in the early part
of the year, and to Lord Walker who had to retire towards the end of the year, each having reached the age of 75….(Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury appointed President of the Supreme Court)…after extensive consultations with senior judges and politicians from the UK’s jurisdiction….

Supreme Court, Annual Report and Accounts (2012-2013)

LORD NEUBERGER, PRESIDENT OF THE SUPREME COURT:  Having succeeded Lord Phillips in October 2012, I am writing my first foreword to an Annual Report of the UKSC and JCPC. I would like to start by paying tribute to my predecessor for all that he did to establish the UKSC as an institution separate from the United Kingdom Parliament, serving all the jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. Whilst there is much about the work here that is familiar from my time as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary between 2007 and 2009, there have been significant improvements in the way in which the Justices go about their business, as well as in the way in which the Justices are supported. Above all, there have been great improvements to the openness, visibility and accessibility of the Court.

Key Points:

“For the first half of the year the Court operated with a full complement of Justices. However, on the appointment of Lord Dyson as Master of the Rolls on 1 October 2012, the Court was reduced to eleven Justices, and remained so for the remainder of the period covered by this Report.”

Lord Carnwath, whose appointment had been announced in February 2012 as a replacement for Lord Brown, was sworn-in as a Justice of the Supreme Court on 17 April 2012.”

Procedure for appointing a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom:

  • In March 2012 a selection commission was established to recommend a successor to Lord Phillips as President of the Supreme Court.
  • Lord Phillips had announced in October 2011 that he would be retiring with effect from 30 September 2012.
  • The selection commission comprised:
    • Lord Phillips and Lord Hope as President and Deputy President of the Court respectively;
    • Professor Nichola Rooney representing the Judicial Appointments Commission in Northern Ireland;
    • Sir Muir Russell representing the Judicial Appointments Board in Scotland; and
    • Christopher Stephens representing the Judicial Appointments Commission for England and Wales.
  • The procedure for appointing the President is governed by the same statutory provisions as that for the appointment of Justices.
  • The legislation does not prescribe the process that a selection commission has to follow, although certain requirements are set out in section 27 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (the Act), including that selection must be on merit.
  • The selection commission decided that the vacancy should be advertised and interested and qualified people invited to apply. An Information Pack was drawn up for potential applicants, which was made available on the UKSC website, or by request.
  • The Act requires extensive consultations with senior judges and politicians from the UK’s jurisdiction, in addition to whatever process the selection commission decides to follow.
  • In the event the process was completed in time for the announcement to be made on 12 July 2012 that Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, then Master of the Rolls, would succeed Lord Phillips with effect from 1 October 2012. Lord Neuberger was subsequently sworn-in on that day, taking his Oaths in front of Lord Hope, the Deputy President, and the other Justices.
  • In October 2012 the Lord Chancellor (Chris Grayling, from September 2012 to May 2015 under Prime Minister Cameron – Clegg -coalition government), invited Lord Neuberger to establish a selection commission to recommend a successor to Lord Dyson, and to identify successors to Lord Walker, who retired on 17 March 2013, and to Lord Hope, who will retire on 27 June 2013.
  • The membership of that selection commission was:
    • Lord Neuberger and Lord Hope as the President and Deputy President of the Court respectively;
    • Professor Nichola Rooney representing the Judicial Appointments Commission in Northern Ireland;
    • Sir Muir Russell representing the Judicial Appointments Board in Scotland; and
    • Christopher Stephens representing the Judicial Appointments Commission for England and Wales.
  • That selection commission followed a similar process to previous selection commissions. The vacancies were advertised during the week of 15 October 2012 and the process of application, consultation and interview followed.
  • During the course of this year the government consulted on, and then introduced in the Crime and Courts Bill, changes to the selection process for Justices of the Supreme Court, as well as for some other members of the judiciary.
    • Changes include:
      • reducing the number of Justices who can serve on a selection commission to recommend replacement Justices for the Supreme Court, and
      • removal of the President from a selection commission to choose his/her successor.
      • Other, broader changes in the Bill are designed to improve diversity and to streamline the system for making judicial appointments.
    • The President, Deputy President, and Chief Executive in her role as Secretary to selection commissions, have been consulted throughout this process with a view to identifying any practical issues which Ministers and their officials should be addressing.
  • Towards the beginning of 2012, Lord Mance was appointed to the arbitration panel of the European Law Institute, an independent body which aims to improve legal consistency in Europe by providing practical advice to policymakers and authorities. The Institute seeks to harmonise the application of European Union law and develop suggestions for reforms of EU.
  • The UKSC is a member of the Association of the Councils of State in Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the European Union (ACA). Lord Carnwath is the Court’s representative on this body and attends occasional events at which administrative justice issues are discussed.

In late February 2013 it was announced that Lord Justice Hughes would replace Lord Dyson, Lord Justice Toulson would replace Lord Walker, and Lord Hodge would replace Lord Hope. Lord Hughes and Lord Toulson (as they will be) will be sworn-in during April; Lord Hodge will be sworn-in in October.

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