2 Television Documentaries on the UK Supreme Court

Britain’s Supreme Court

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/britains-supreme-court/episode-guide/series-1/episode-1

Description from the Channel 4 /More4 Web site:

This gripping, feature-length documentary charts the first year in the life of Britain’s new Supreme Court – the highest court in the land. With unprecedented access the film meets the judges, lawyers and ordinary people whose cases will have a far-reaching effect on the everyday lives of others across the UK.

For those bringing these high-profile cases to court there is a lot at stake, and the programme reveals their hopes and fears as they and their legal teams come face-to-face with the most powerful judges in the UK.

The judges have allowed proceedings to be filmed and, uniquely, justice is seen unfolding as judges and lawyers – the finest legal minds in the country – debate key contemporary issues. See David and Goliath battles of individuals challenging the state, the outcomes of which help to define the nature of society today.

 

The Highest Court in the Land: Justice Makers (clips only)

BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xz0s5

Description from the BBC  Web site:

They are the UK’s most powerful arbiters of justice and now, for the first time, four of the Justices of the Supreme Court talk frankly and openly about the nature of justice and how they make their decisions. The film offers a revealing glimpse of the human characters behind the judgments and explores why the Supreme Court and its members are fundamental to our democracy.

The 11 men and one woman who make up the UK Supreme Court have the last say on the most controversial and difficult cases in the land. What they decide binds every citizen. But are their rulings always fair, do their feelings ever get in the way of their judgments and are they always right?

In the first 14 months of the court they have ruled on MPs’ expenses, which led to David Chaytor’s prosecution, changed the status of pre-nuptial agreements and battled with the government over control orders and the Human Rights Act.

They explain what happens when they cannot agree and there is a divided judgment, and how they avoid letting their personal feelings effect their interpretation of the law. And they face up to the difficult issue of diversity; there is only one woman on the court, and she is the only Justice who went to a non-fee-paying school.

 

Other BBC shows on justice and legal issue sare available at:

Justice a Citizen’s Guide

http://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/seasons/justiceseason/

 

 

 

 

UK Judicial Views on Human Rights and Judicial Accountability

The UK Human Rights Blog wrote about two recent speeches by British senior judges, the President of the UK Supreme Court and Master of the Rolls, reflecting on judicial review and the role of the Human Rights Act.  Egypt’s new rulers and opposition leaders may wish to consult these documents as they create new mechanisms for Egyptian courts to check executive and legislative power and protect human rights.

Judicial Independence & Accountability: A View from the Supreme Court

Lord Phillips, President of the UK Supreme Court

8 Feb. 2011

http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/docs/speech_110208.pdf

 

Protecting Human Rights in an Age of Insecurity

Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Master of the Rolls

7 Feb. 2011

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Speeches/mr-speech-cla-07022011.pdf

Description of the speeches from the blog posting

http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2011/02/09/justice-in-the-age-of-insecurity/#more-6838

Two of the UK’s top judges have given fascinating speeches this week on justice in the age of insecurity. One by the head of the supreme court warns that budget cuts will imperil the independence of the judiciary. The other by the head of the court of appeal, argues that despite not being able to tell the government what to do, UK courts can provide effective protection of fundamental rights.

The speeches offer fascinating and sometimes controversial perspectives on our odd but in many ways admirable constitutional system, as well as warnings that strained budgets and political meddling could do it damage.

Hat tip to Adam Wagner of UK Human Rights Blog.

 

 

 

 

 

New café, jaunty carpet with Supreme Court Attached

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

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/student/article7057610.ece

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.

Last days of the Law Lords

July 31, 2009  is the last day that the law lords will work at the House of Lords. The new UK Supreme Court should be up and running soon in the fall.  Curiously, with the end of the House of Lords’ judicial function, the U.S. Supreme Court is now one of the oldest  unchanged courts of last resort.

Coverage of the end of the era for the Law Lords

From Law Lords to Supreme Court http://news.parliament.uk/2009/07/from-house-of-lords-to-supreme-court/ 

Farewell to the law lords http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article6731018.ece?&EMC-Bltn=BGLA5B

House of Commons Report on Constitutional Reform & Renewal , July 2009 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmjust/923/923.pdf

A Potted History of the Law Lords http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8176958.stm