From House of Lords to Supreme Court

After 30 July 2009, the role of the House
of Lords as the UK’s highest appeal court ends [Transcriber’s note: Single slide with
written heading] Lord Mance, Law Lord, on the changes to the
judicial role of the House of Lords [Transcriber’s note: Single slide with written heading] Lord Mance: This is the consequence of the
separation of judicial, legislative and executive powers, prescribed by the Constitutional Reform
Act 2005. The Act, for the first time, recognises expressly
both the rule of law and the principle of the independence of the judiciary, and the
separation will mark that. It will make the Supreme Court visible. It will make it, separately
identifiable. We shan’t get the confusion, which I noted in the Spanish press at the
time of the Pinochet affair, between the House of Lords in its legislative capacity and in
its judicial capacity. Interviewer: What does this mean for the House
of Lords and the role of Parliament more generally? Lord Mance: It means, for Parliament, that
Parliament will no longer have an appellate function in respect of individuals, companies
or the Government. In that sense, it will cease to be the High Court of
means for the Law Lords that, under the Act, while we are serving, we can’t sit or vote
in the House of Lords, although, of course, we remain Peers. As retired Law Lords,we would
be able to return and take a full part, unless there is some more major reform. In practical
terms, we shall leave this building, that’s the Houses of Parliament, we shall move to
a building across Parliament Square, the former Middlesex Guildhall, and that has been elegantly
refurbished. Interviewer: I think the last activity of
the Law Lords in the House of Lords is on the 30th of July [Transcriber’s note: 30th
July 2009].could you tell us about what will be happening in that final week that the Law
Lords sit in the House? Lord Mance: Yes, we’ve got a full list of
four cases, which are being heard from Monday to Thursday. We’re reverting to an old tradition,
that is to sit in the Chamber of the House, instead of Committee Room Number 1, and that
will be, those will be sittings which are open to the public. They will culminate with
our last judgments, seven of them, given at 4.30 on Thursday. In our case, the last judgment
is predictable in timing and that, too, will be an event which is open to the public and,
after that, our appellate function will cease. Here. Interviewer: So the public can come and witness
this historic last week of the Law Lords in the House? Lord Mance: Very much so. All sittings of
the House of Lords are, in fact, open to the public (they’re not usually videoed) and
all sittings of the Supreme Court will be open to the public and we shall have much
better public facilities the other side of Parliament Square in the new building. Interviewer: So what will happen after the
30th of July? [Transcriber’s note: 30th July 2009] Lord Mance: What will happen is, I’m afraid,
from our point of view, a lot of packing and moving. the usual vacation business of – includes
writing some judgments, preparing some lectures and, perhaps, attending one or two conferences.
we’ve got a full team in place, headed by a Chief Executive and a Registrar, and they
will be commissioning the building. Interviewer: Finally, and this may be quite
a broad question, but how would you sum up the contribution of Law Lords to the work
of the House of Lords? Lord Mance: In the past, I think, very significant.
Even in the legislative area, there are some great names who played a major recent
years, that has very much diminished, especially in connection with anything political and
it still remains to this day in the committee sphere, I think that’s where the real recent
contribution has been. The Consolidation Bills Committee, the Privileges Committee and, above
all, the European Union Select Committee, on which I sit. I chair one of the sub-committees,
Sub-Committee E, which scrutinises European law and institutions and I have to say I think
that has been a very valuable experience.I think that interchange has given insights
into how Government and Parliament inter-relate,both with each other and with Brussels, which most
serving judges haven’t had and, if I have one regret about the move, it would be the
loss of that opportunity. But I have to say that the new Supreme Court is going to offer
plenty of new opportunities for outreach, and we have to make sure that we use them,
and I’m sure we will. Find out more:
[Transcriber’s note: Single slide with written heading] [Transcriber’s note: End of video]

2 Responses

  1. Brian Johnson says:

    Excellent stuff. Goes a long way towards dispelling the myth of the Lords being a stuffy out of touch institution.

  2. Ian Inkster says:

    This will be a new tradition.

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