Appointment of Justices (2014-2015)

….the increase in the number of litigants in persons applying for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court has been maintained…

Supreme Court, Annual Report and Accounts (2014-2015)

The independence of the judiciary is a crucial element of the rule of law, and of our constitutional system, and it is of particular importance in relation to the highest court in the United Kingdom. We are, however, determined that independence does not equate to isolation from the other branches of government, and so we have continued to seek appropriate ways of developing relationships with both the executive and the legislature. I have regular, but not frequent, meetings with the Lord Chancellor, and with the Law Officers; and, in addition to my annual appearance with Lady Hale before the Constitution Committee of the House of Lords, we have welcomed visits from members of relevant House of Commons committees. (Lord Neuberger)

Key Points:

…no vacancies arose during the 2014–15 financial year. This period of stability was very welcome after a significant number of changes since the Court opened in 2009. There are now only four Justices who were previously members of the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. We do not expect a further vacancy until late 2016 when Lord Toulson reaches his statutory retirement age.

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

  • The primary legislation was supplemented by the Supreme Court (Judicial Appointments) Regulations 2013 which came into force on 1 October 2013.
  • These Regulations require that a selection commission must have an odd number of members not less than five and for those commissions recommending candidates for appointment as Justices (not President or Deputy President) the selection commission must consist of:
    • President (Chairman);
    • a member of each of the Judicial Appointments bodies in England
      and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; and
    • a senior UK Judge nominated by the President, and
    • having due regard to the territorial composition of the selection commission.
  • Those with responsibility for nominating a person to be a member of a selection
    commission must have regard to the fact “that it is desirable that the members of the selection commission should include –

(a) Both women and men; and
(b) Members drawn from a range of different
racial groups (within the meaning of Section
9(3) of the Equality Act 2000).

  • The Regulations also require that at least two members of the selection commission should be non-legally qualified.
  • In my capacity as Secretary to selection commissions I have alerted the Chairs of the Judicial Appointments bodies around the UK of these requirements.
  • Review of the Process: In the summer of 2014 I agreed with Lord Neuberger that, as we did not expect any vacancies to arise until 2016 when Lord Toulson reaches his statutory retirement age, it would be a good opportunity to review the process followed by selection commissions. (I undertook this project in my role as
    secretary to selection commissions, and not as Chief Executive of the UKSC.)