Appointment of Justices (2013-2014)

Lord Hughes and Lord Toulson, as they became, were both sworn-in on 9 April 2013. Lord Hope retired on 27 June 2013, and Lord Hodge was sworn-in as his replacement as a second Scottish Justice on 1 October 2013…Lady Hale sworn in as Deputy President.

Supreme Court, Annual Report and Accounts (2013-2014)

We have agreed with the Constitutional Committee of the House of Lords that the President and Deputy President will make an annual appearance before the Committee. Lord Neuberger and Lord Hope appeared before the Committee in February 2013 (before this reporting period) and Lord Neuberger and Lady Hale are due to do so again in June 2014 (after this reporting period).

Key Points:

Crime and Courts Act 2013 introduced a number of changes such as Deputy President will no longer be a member of the selection commission; President has the power to nominate another Judge to join the commission, but they cannot be a Justice of the Supreme Court; the Act specifically allows a selection commission, where two persons are of equal merit, to prefer one over the other for the purposes of increasing diversity within the Court.

Issues:

  1. Is diversity equivalent to disability as such Judges in the lower courts with disabilities (reported or not) are being promoted to key functions that affect the confidence of the public in the Judiciary and the Justice System?
  2. Is diversity equivalent to holding multiple employment as more full-time Judges hold more than one job giving them a broad spectrum of other issues but which is in breach or contrary to the employment terms of the Ministry of Justice?

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

  • Separate selection commission was established in April 2013 to make recommendations on who should succeed Lord Hope as Deputy President of the Supreme Court.
  • Membership of the selection commission was:
    • Lord Neuberger and Lord Hope as the President and then 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.
  • There was no vacancy for a Supreme Court Justice, Lord Hodge having already been selected to succeed Lord Hope as a Justice, the competition for Deputy President was confined to the serving Justices of the Supreme Court. Subject to that, the process followed was similar to that for other competitions, with applications invited, consultations amongst those prescribed by statute and interview.
  • Changes to the selection process: The Crime and Courts Act 2013 introduced a number of changes to the judicial appointments process:
    • Rather than having an absolute ceiling of twelve full-time Justices of the Court, the way has been opened for more flexible working patterns with the new requirement that no appointment may cause the full-time equivalent number of Justices to be more than twelve.
    • We will be considering further how this might work in practice.
    • For the future, although the President will continue to be a member of, and chair all selection commissions other than those to select his/her successor, the Deputy President will no longer be a member of the selection commission.
    • Instead, the President has the power to nominate another Judge to join the commission, but they cannot be a Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • Further, in relation to diversity, the Act specifically allows a selection commission, where two persons are of equal merit, to prefer one over the other for the purposes of increasing diversity within the Court.

On 24 June 2013 it was announced that Lady Hale would succeed Lord Hope as Deputy President and she was sworn in as Deputy President on 22 July 2013.