A visit to Britain’s newest and highest court – the Supreme Court
Thursday 9 May 2019, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Little George Street (by Parliament Square)
In a major move in British judicial history, the country’s highest appeal court, the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (commonly known as the Law Lords) was in October 2009 transformed into the Supreme Court and moved from the House of Lords to Middlesex Guildhall. It was thereby separated from the Lords both legally and physically, after more than 600 years. When it moved into the refurbished Middlesex Guildhall, its sister court, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (which is the highest appeal court for a number of Commonwealth nations and territories), moved there as well, which made sense as the two courts share many resources and judges.
The decision to move the two courts to the Grade II* listed Middlesex Guildhall, once the home of Middlesex County Council and Quarter Sessions and most recently housing Middlesex Crown Court, caused uproar among conservation groups, who were outraged at the perceived destruction of neo-gothic furnishings that had been restored as recently as 1989.
Since 2009 the twelve judges who sit on the Supreme Court have heard a wide variety of civil and criminal appeals in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It was this court which determined that the government’s Brexit agreement with the EU must be approved by Parliament in order to be legally valid.
Chief Executive Mark Ormerod has kindly offered to give us a private guided tour of this historic building. Starting on the lower ground floor, which during the crown court years housed the cells for prisoners awaiting trial and now is a fascinating exhibition area, we will see the Supreme Court’s two courtrooms as well as the courtroom used by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The icing on the cake will be the beautiful library (a former courtroom) which is not usually open to the public.
A glass of wine will be served at the end of the tour.
Kensington Society members £15, non-members £20