September 28, 2021

Lady Hale marks Supreme Court’s 10th anniversary at Westminster Abbey

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Lady Hale arrives at the Judges Service at Westminster Abbey in London today to mark the start of the new legal year

Lady Hale today marked the Supreme Court’s tenth anniversary at her final ceremony at Westminster Abbey marking the start of the legal year.

The UK’s highest court, which sits in the former Middlesex Guildhall in London, was created in October 2009, moving the Law Lords who sat in Parliament’s upper house to an independent final court of appeal.

Today’s anniversary comes a week after the court ruled Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful – possibly the most significant judgment in its ten-year history. 

Lady Hale, 74, was the first female Law Lord, the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court and the first judge at the High Court having been an academic and public servant rather than a practising barrister.

She was among hundreds of senior judges, including all 12 Supreme Court justices, attending the service. 

The opening of the legal year was the Supreme Court president’s last in the post, before she stands down in January to be replaced by deputy president Lord Reed. 

Lady Hale has previously been dubbed her ‘the Beyonce of the legal world’ and Britain’s answer to the American Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The British judge has become known on the circuit for wearing oversized insect and animal brooches – choosing a spider for last week’s major judgement.

Sitting as a panel of 11 justices for only the second time, the Supreme Court last Tuesday unanimously held that the prorogation was ‘void and of no effect’, prompting the immediate recall of Parliament. 

Lady Hale, pictured today, was the first female Law Lord and the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court

Lady Hale was among hundreds of senior judges, including all 12 Supreme Court justices, attending the service today

Lady Hale has been dubbed her ‘the Beyonce of the legal world’ and Britain’s answer to America’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Lady Hale, pictured in London today, was the first judge at the High Court having been an academic and public servant

Lady Hale steps onto the pavement as some of Britain’s most senior judges take part in the annual Judges Service today

Lady Hale smiles as she waits for the start of the annual Judges Service at Westminster Abbey in London today

Lady Hale has become known on the circuit for wearing oversized insect and animal brooches while delivering judgments

A Supreme Court justice has his gown held for him after leaving the annual Judges Service at Westminster Abbey today

Judges and other members of the legal profession leave Westminster Abbey following the Judges Service today

The legal year begins at the beginning of October and since the middle ages has been marked with a procession of judges

Supreme Court justices file past Circuit Judges as they arrive for the annual Judges Service at Westminster Abbey today

The unprecedented judgment was welcomed as ‘a huge victory for the rule of law’ by those challenging Mr Johnson’s decision, but led to criticism from Government members and pro-Brexit politicians and commentators.

The Supreme Court’s inception ten years ago was a landmark legal development, separating the legislature from the judiciary as part of the then Labour government’s constitutional reforms. 

It is the final court of appeal for the UK, apart from Scottish criminal cases, and concentrates on issues of the greatest public and constitutional importance.

The Supreme Court has delivered a number of other significant rulings, including on assisted dying, abortion rights in Northern Ireland and the law on joint enterprise in criminal trials. 

In a statement issued as his appointment to president was announced in July, Lord Reed said: ‘It is a great honour to succeed Lady Hale as president of the Supreme Court. 

The start of the legal year is marked with a procession of judges from Temple Bar to Westminster Abbey for the service today

High Court judges sit in rows at Westminster Abbey today during the Judges Service in London

High Court judges leave Westminster Abbey in a line following the Judges Service today

The service at Westminster Abbey comes today as the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Supreme Court is celebrated

Judges and members of the legal profession leave Westminster Abbey following the Judges Service today

High Court judges sit in Westminster Abbey during the Judges Service today which marks the start of the legal year

Hundreds of senior judges, including all 12 Supreme Court justices, attend the service at Westminster Abbey today

 Judges enter Westminster Abbey today for the service, which takes place annually at the start of legal year

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland QC MP arrives at Westminster Abbey today

Judges leave Westminster Abbey in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament following the Judges Service today

Judges arrive at Westminster Abbey for the annual service today which marks the start of the legal year

Judges and members of the legal profession leave Westminster Abbey following the Judges Service today

Lady Hale at the Supreme Court in London last Tuesday as a judgement prompts the immediate recall of Parliament

‘In this year when we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the opening of the court, I reflect on the achievements of the distinguished presidents who have come before me.

‘I am privileged to follow them in working with my colleagues to maintain the fundamental role which the Supreme Court plays in the law of our country.

‘As president, I will continue to champion the rule of law, alongside promoting public understanding of the role of the judiciary and maintaining the high regard in which the court is held around the world.’

Lord Reed’s appointment was made by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor, following the recommendations of independent selection commissions.

Read ANDREW PIERCE’s profile on Lady Hale published in the Daily Mail last week following the key judgment.

From right-to-die to Northern Ireland abortion, some of the Supreme Court’s biggest cases as judges mark its tenth anniversary

The Supreme Court – the final court of appeal for all cases across the UK, apart from Scottish criminal appeals – is 10 years old.

The landmark comes exactly one week after it delivered a bombshell ruling that Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament for five weeks was unlawful – arguably the most significant ruling it has issued.

Here is a look back at some of the biggest cases the Supreme Court has heard in its 10-year history – and a look ahead to what else is coming in 2019.

Article 50 case

Last week’s ruling was not the first time the Supreme Court has ruled on a Brexit-related case involving Gina Miller.

In January 2017, it ruled that Government ministers could not trigger the Article 50 process to begin the countdown to the UK’s exit from the European Union without an Act of Parliament authorising it to do so.

By a majority of eight to three, the justices agreed with an earlier ruling by the High Court after a group of campaigners led by Mrs Miller brought legal challenges against the Government.

Right to die cases

Tony Nicklinson, who suffered locked-in syndrome after a catastrophic stroke, died days after his right-to-die case was rejected by the High Court in 2012.

The 58-year-old’s fight was taken to the Supreme Court by his widow Jane Nicklinson, along with the case of paralysed former builder Paul Lamb, in 2014.

Justices rejected the case but Lady Hale – now president of the court – expressed the view that the protection of vulnerable people was not sufficient to justify a ‘universal ban’ on assisted suicide.

The court refused to hear an appeal in 2018 by motor neurone sufferer Noel Conway against an earlier High Court rejection of his case that the ‘blanket ban’ on assisted dying was an unjustified interference with his human rights.

Northern Ireland abortion

A majority of a seven-strong panel of justices declared in June 2018 that Northern Ireland’s strict abortion legislation is ‘incompatible’ with human rights laws.

The judges expressed the ‘clear opinion’ that the law is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape and incest.

The panel ultimately dismissed the challenge over the legality of the abortion law, ruling that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission had no legal standing to bring the case.

But the court’s then deputy president Lord Mance said the present law ‘clearly needs radical reconsideration’ and that the opinion of the court – while not legally binding – ‘cannot safely be ignored’.

He added: ‘I am, in short, satisfied that the present legislative position in Northern Ireland is untenable and intrinsically disproportionate in excluding from any possibility of abortion pregnancies involving fatal foetal abnormality or due to rape or incest.’

John Worboys

In February 2018, the court ruled by a majority that police can be held liable for serious failures in their investigations, as it rejected a Metropolitan Police appeal linked to the case of black cab rapist John Worboys.

The force lost a challenge against an earlier ruling which led to two of Worboys’s victims winning compensation.

Giving the court’s ruling, Lord Kerr said that failures in the investigation of crimes would give rise to liability on the part of the police, provided they were ‘sufficiently serious’.

The judge added: ‘There were such serious deficiencies in this case. There were, of course, both systemic and investigatory failures in the case.

‘But, the important point to make is that, if the investigation is seriously defective, even if no systemic failures are present, this will be enough to render the police liable.’

Joint enterprise

The court ruled in February 2016 that the law on joint enterprise in criminal cases had been wrongly interpreted by trial judges over the past 30 years.

A panel of five justices concluded that the interpretation of the law relating to joint enterprise, which could result in people being convicted of assault or murder even if they did not strike a blow, had taken a new turn in the 1980s.

The judges delivered the ruling after an appeal brought by Ameen Jogee, who was convicted at Nottingham Crown Court in 2012 of ex-police officer Paul Fyfe’s murder.

Mr Fyfe was fatally stabbed by Mohammed Hirsi at a house in Leicester in June 2011 while being egged on by Jogee.

After Jogee’s conviction was quashed by the court, he was retried, convicted of manslaughter and jailed for 12 years.

The rest of 2019

The Supreme Court is not yet finished for 2019, with several big hearings and judgments still expected before the end of the year.

In November, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams will challenge two historical prison escape convictions, arguing that his convictions relating to attempts to escape from the Maze Prison during the early 1970s are unlawful because of flaws in the detention process.

In December, Whittington Hospital NHS Trust will appeal against a ruling that a young woman left infertile because her cervical cancer was not spotted for more than four years should be awarded the costs of having surrogate children in America.

The court is also due to give its ruling in a case brought by two suspected so-called Islamic State terrorists accused of belonging to a brutal four-man cell of executioners in Syria nicknamed The Beatles, who are challenging the decision to share evidence with American authorities without seeking assurances they would not receive the death penalty if convicted in the US.

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