An excellent and informative day was had by members and guests when they visited the home of the Supreme Court and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, a Grade II listed building situated on a site closely linked with Justice and law for nearly a millennium.
The present building was completed in 1913 and is the third courthouse or Guildhall to be built on the site since 1807.
Previously the UK’s highest court of appeal was formed by the Lords of Appeal, with the Law Lords being appointed by the Queen from the ranks of the senior judiciary. In 2005 the Constitutional Reform Act provided for the establishment of the Supreme Court to achieve a clear separation between our senior judges and Parliament. Most of the inaugural 12 Justices of the Supreme Court were formerly Law Lords and automatically became Justices on 1st October 2009.
The Supreme Court plays an important role in the interpretation and development of the law, making decisions that are relevant to everyday lives that help shape our society. It hears civil cases from all parts of the UK and criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It does not hold trials where guilt and innocence are decided, so there is no dock or witness stand. Instead, points of law are discussed, so the court rooms are specially designed to encourage an atmosphere of learned debate. The Supreme Court is currently the only court in the UK where proceedings are routinely filmed and available to watch online.
After the visit, which everyone found extremely interesting and enjoyable, lunch was held in a convivial manner in pleasant surroundings at the nearby St. Ermin’s Hotel.