Times of London has published its law student winning essay on the new UK Supreme Court and British constitutional law.
New Café, Jaunty Carpet with Supreme Court Attached. Supreme Court UK: radical change or business as usual?
Anita Davies, law student at City University
Excerpts from the article:
H.W.R Wade, in his 1955 article The Basis of Legal Sovereignty, stated that Parliamentary sovereignty based its legitimacy upon political fact and could be changed only by revolution. In his 1996 article Sovereignty — Revolution or Evolution? he argued that such a revolution, albeit a quiet one, had indeed taken place.
In recent years judges have been increasingly assertive in recognising the possibility that there may be times when it is valid for the courts to challenge Parliament. In the 2005 fox hunting case, Jackson v Attorney-General, Lord Steyn referred to the possibility of “constitutional fundamentals”, which even a sovereign parliament could not abolish.
Seen in this light, the opening of the Supreme Court is a symbolic recognition that the framework of constitutional and political debate has already shifted to a considerable extent. There is little doubt that the new name and location will have an effect on the role of the newly appointed judges, it would be extraordinary if it did not.
But the tools they use to fulfil their role, and potentially exercise judicial authority more assertively, have existed for some years. The pleasing new symmetry of Parliament Square has been referenced by a number of commentators; justice on the one side, government on the other and Westminster Abbey facing both. This new layout can also be seen as symbolic of an evolving legal order best described by Dawn Oliver; where Parliament is “no longer at the apex of a simple hierarchy of simple legal norms” but at the centre of a web of developing relationships between different laws and rules from various sources.