August through October 2014 marks a 5-year milestone for the United Kingdom's new high court, the UK Supreme Court. In August 2009 the Justices moved out of the House of Lords (where centuries of their predecessors had decided so many appellate cases featured in American law student case books) and into their own building. That October, they sat for the first time as a Supreme Court.
As explained on its website, the Court replaced the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. It was created by legislation meant to "achieve a complete separation between the United Kingdom's senior Judges and the Upper House of Parliament." The creation of a separate high court emphasizes "the independence of the Law Lords," who as members of the new court can no longer sit and vote on legislation. Judges joining the Court after 2009 will be directly appointed upon the recommendation of a special commission. The final court of appeal for all United Kingdom civil cases, and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Court focuses on appeals "of the greatest public and constitutional importance."
In this recent post, the librarians' blog of the Law Library of Congress featured the UK Supreme Court and its beautiful building. The Court's website, in addition to case decisions, provides helpful information for law students about the court's history and jurisdiction, including this useful chart.
Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat
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