Effectiveness of UK Democracy

Effectiveness of UK Democracy

UK Supreme Court: Composition

  • The UK Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, and it plays a crucial role in interpreting legislation and ensuring the rule of law.
  • There are 12 Justices in the Supreme Court, although not all sit on each case. A minimum of three Justices can hear a case but usually five, seven or nine sit. In particularly significant cases, all 12 will sit.
  • They are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, who receives recommendations from a selection commission.
  • The justices represent a variety of legal backgrounds, and both barristers and solicitors can be appointed.

UK Supreme Court: Underpinning Principles

  • Independence: The chief principle underpinning the Supreme Court is its independence from government. It’s crucial to the rule of law that justices can make decisions without political interference.
  • Impartiality: Justices must not favour any political party or be biased in any way. They should be free from any sort of influence that could sway their decisions.
  • Rule of Law: The Supreme Court safeguards the rule of law. It ensures that no individual, regardless of their power or status, is above the law.
  • Transparency: Decisions of the Supreme Court are open to public scrutiny as legal rulings are made available to public.

UK Supreme Court: Power

  • The Supreme Court’s power comes from its ability to interpret legislation. This is important when laws are ambiguous or their application is unclear.
  • It can rule on disputes between different parts of the UK. It plays a crucial role in the devolution settlements for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
  • The Court can rule on cases that have significant implications for the whole UK, making it a vital appellate court.
  • It clearly separates the judiciary from the legislature and the executive ensuring no branch exercises unchecked power.

UK Supreme Court: Impact

  • The Supreme Court’s decisions shape the interpretation of the law for all courts in the UK to follow.
  • Notable rulings by the Supreme Court have brought significant changes in both law and society.
  • It holds the executive to account, as seen in the high-profile case over whether the Government could trigger Article 50 without parliament’s consent following the Brexit referendum.

Supreme Court: Post-Brexit

  • The EU’s legal supremacy ends after Brexit, resulting in the UK Supreme Court becoming the final court of appeal.
  • With the UK out of the jurisdiction of the EU’s Court of Justice, the UK Supreme Court’s power and importance increases.
  • In the transition period, the UK can consult the EU’s court about the interpretation of European laws which remain in UK law.
  • Post-Brexit, the Supreme Court will see a considerable increase in its caseload and its role in shaping the UK’s legal landscape.