Supreme Court: Composition

The Supreme Court: Composition

General Composition

  • The UK Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in the UK.
  • It comprises 12 Justices, including a President and a Deputy President.
  • Justices are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor.

Qualifications of Justices

  • All Justices must have a legal background, with at least 15 years of experience as a qualified lawyer.
  • Justices are typically former High Court judges, although some come from the Court of Appeal.
  • Despite the absence of a formal age restriction, newly appointed Justices are expected to serve a non-renewable term lasting until they reach the age of 70 or a maximum of 15 years, whichever is shorter.

Process of Appointment

  • The appointment of Justices is executed through a transparent and merit-based process, conducted by an independent selection commission established for this purpose.
  • The commission follows a five-step process: advertising the vacancy, considering the applicants, consulting with key individuals, recommending a candidate and making the appointment.
  • The Lord Chancellor can reject the selected candidate but he must provide reasons for doing so.

Diversity among Justices

  • There has been criticism over the lack of diversity among Justices, as they are predominantly white, male, and from a privileged background.
  • As of 2021, three of the 12 Justices are female. The Supreme Court has only ever had two non-white Justices.
  • Efforts have been made to make the appointment process fairer and more transparent to address these concerns.

Role of President and Deputy President

  • The President of the Supreme Court is the highest-ranking judge in the UK and has significant responsibilities, including representing the UK judiciary domestically and internationally.
  • The Deputy President supports the President and will act in this capacity if the President is unable to fulfil his or her duties.
  • Both the President and the Deputy President are appointed from among the Justices.