The Politics of Judicial Independence in Britain's Changing Constitution
January 2011 - September 2014
“… I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.”
- The Judicial Oath
In January 2011, the Constitution Unit began a three-year AHRC-funded project on 'The Politics of Judicial Independence in Britain's Changing Constitution'. The project team are Robert Hazell, Kate Malleson (Queen Mary, University of London), Graham Gee (Birmingham University), Patrick O'Brien and Brian Walker.
The AHRC granted an extension of the project to June 2014, and have also awarded Follow Up funding to enable further dissemination of the project’s findings and conclusions to March 2015. For initial plans of these dissemination activities, read our Follow Up funding proposal.
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 placed Ministers under a statutory duty to uphold judicial independence yet the Act does not define judicial independence. If it is to be upheld it must be clearly understood by all those who are required to protect it.
Our research questions are:
- What is the meaning of judicial independence and what are its proper limits?
- How is judicial independence best protected, and by whom?
- Who is now accountable for the judiciary, and to whom?
Conference Paper by Robert Hazell: Judicial Independence and
Accountability in the UK (31 May 2014)
- Consultation Response: MoJ/JAC Triennial Review 2014 (24 April 2014)
- Consultation Response: JAC Consultation on diversity tiebreaker (30 July 2013)
- Seminar Note: The Abolition of the office of Lord Chancellor (12 June 2013)
- Seminar Note: Judicial Independence in the Tribunals System (18 April 2013)
- Seminar Note: Judicial Independence and the Executive (5 December 2012)
- Seminar Note: Judicial Independence in Northern Ireland (7 November 2012)
- Seminar Note: Judicial Independence and the Supreme Court (3 October 2012)
- Briefing Paper: The Crime and Courts Bill 2012 (25 June 2012)
- Seminar Note: Judicial Independence and Judicial Appointments (22 February 2012)
- Seminar Note: Law, Politics and the Future of the Human Rights Act (seminar organised with Middle Temple, 2 February 2012)
- Research Note: Sarah Ellicott - British Newspaper Representations of the Judiciary
- Research Note: John Adenitire - Judicial Independence in Europe
- Seminar Note: Judicial Independence and Accountability and the Role of Parliament (7 December 2011)
- Seminar Note: Judicial Independence and the Media (21 September 2011)
- Justice Rosalie Abella's lecture Constitutions and Judges (7 July 2011)
- Seminar Note: Judicial Independence and the Separation of Powers (11 May 2011)
- Lord Phillips' lecture Judicial Independence: A View from the Supreme Court (8 February 2011)
Recent Blog Posts
- Graham Gee and Kate Malleson - Judicial Appointments, Diversity and the Equal Merit Provision [UK Constitutional Law Association blog]
- Graham Gee - The Lord Chief Justice and Section 5 of the Constitutional Reform Act [UK Constitutional Law Association blog]
- Stephen Clark - Where next for the Court Service? The struggle between the Judiciary and the Executive
- Patrick O'Brien - Does the Lord Chancellor really exist? [UK Constitutional Law Group blog]
- John Crook - The abolition of the Lord Chancellor
- Kate Malleson - Is the UK the only OECD country that doesn't have excellent women lawyers fit for our highest courts? [UK Constitutional Law Group blog]
- Brian Walker - Northern Ireland chief justice to confront critics on bail decisions
- Patrick O'Brien - When Judges Misbehave: The Strange Case of Jonah Barrington [UK Constitutional Law Group blog]
- Kate Malleson and Graham Gee - Who should have the final say in lower level judicial appointments? [UK Constitutional Law Group blog]
Our three year research project on “The Politics of Judicial Independence in Britain’s Changing Constitution” explored the changing relations between the judiciary, executive and Parliament in light of recent constitutional reforms which have established the judiciary as a more separate branch of government. Throughout the project we have held private seminars with representatives from all three branches of government and the legal profession, to stimulate dialogue between them about the issues we are researching. This has proved very successful, with senior figures regularly attending from the Ministry of Justice, the judiciary and Parliament. They include Jack Straw (former Lord Chancellor), Lord Neuberger (new President of the Supreme Court), Lord Phillips (then President), Lord Clarke (then Master of the Rolls), Sir Alan Beith (chair, Commons Justice Committee), Lord Goldsmith (former Attorney General), Ursula Brennan (Permanent Secretary, Min of Justice), etc .
seminars were high level, invitation only events held under the Chatham House
Rule, which was part of the reason for their success. But, we
now want to take our findings out to a wider audience, by organising a series
of lectures, seminars and conferences to disseminate our findings to different
practitioner communities through 2014. We want to organise or speak at a series of events held in all three
branches of government, and at lawyers’ conferences, running through 2014-15,
finishing with a closing conference in 2015.
Our aims and objectives for the follow up funding are:
- To disseminate our findings to the widest possible audience, amongst the judiciary, in government, in Parliament, the legal profession and the wider public
- To generate better understanding about the new relationships between the judiciary and the other branches of government, and a dialogue which continues after our project has gone.
These events are run as part of our AHRC-funded project on The Politics of Judicial Independence.
Constitutional Change: Unfinished Business
4 December 2013
Practitioner Seminar 8: Judicial Independence in the Tribunals System
18 April 2013
Practitioner Seminar 7: Judicial Independence & the Executive
5 December 2012
Practitioner Seminar 6: Judicial Independence in Northern Ireland
22 February 2012
Practitioner Seminar 5: Judicial Independence & The Supreme Court
3 October 2012
Practitioner Seminar 4: Judicial Independence & Judicial Appointments
22 February 2012
The Human Rights Act
2 February 2012: This seminar was co-organised with Middle Temple on 'Law, Politics and the Future of the Human Rights Act'.
Practitioner Seminar 3: Judicial Independence & Parliament
7 December 2011
Practitioner Seminar 2: Judicial Independence & the Media
21 September 2011
Notes from the Canadian Supreme Court
7 July 2011
Justice Rosalie Abella of the Canadian Supreme Court delivered a lecture on 'Constitutions and Judges: Changing Rules, Roles and Expectations'.
Practitioner Seminar 1: Judicial Independence & the Separation of Powers
11 May 2011
Judicial Independence & Accountability
8 February 2011
Submission to the Constitution Committee on the Office of Lord Chancellor
Graham Gee made a submission in response to this consultation.
Submission to JAC consultation on use of s.159 Equality Act
The project made a submission in response to this consultation.
Changes to Judicial Appointments in the Crime and Courts Bill 2012
Patrick O'Brien published a Briefing Paper on the Crime and Courts Bill.
Submission to Ministry of Justice Consultation on 'Appointments and Diversity: A Judiciary for the 21st Century'
Robert Hazell, Kate Malleson and Graham Gee made a submission to this inquiry.
When the Supreme Court won't Hear
2 November 2011
Robert Hazell and Graham Gee published a comment piece in The Guardian.
Judicial Independence and the Supreme Court
Patrick O'Brien published a short article in the British Politics Review: (2011) 6/3 British Politics Review 5.
Submissions to Lords Constitution Committee Inquiry on The Judicial Appointments Process
Members of the Project made two submissions to this inquiry.