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 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?
- 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
- 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]
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 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.
Project Application Documents
Where next for the Court Service? The struggle between the Judiciary and the Executive
Wed, 14 Aug 2013 14:30:34 +0000
14th August 2013 On 26th March 2013, a low key written ministerial statement appeared before the House of Commons from the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, declaring that he had asked staff to ‘explore proposals for the reform of the resourcing and administration of our courts and tribunals.’ Lodged between announcements that student loans were to […]Read more...
Northern Ireland chief justice to confront critics on bail decisions
Tue, 12 Mar 2013 09:20:16 +0000
15th March 2013 The Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland Sir Declan Morgan has given a rare TV interview designed to take the heat out of allegations of partiality between unionists and nationalists in granting bail. He is offering to explain the basis of recent decisions to the Justice Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly […]Read more...
2. Judges and the European Convention; or we need to talk Abu Qatada!
Tue, 04 Dec 2012 11:25:31 +0000
This post is part two of a dialogue with Brian Walker on the Human Rights Act and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Brian raises three points that deserve close attention. Firstly, what is the status of the relationship between the ECtHR and Britain? Secondly, why do cases take so very long to get […]Read more...
1.The judges need to respond to Chris Grayling’s challenge to the authority of the European Court of Human Rights
Tue, 04 Dec 2012 09:37:10 +0000
This is Part One of a personal dialogue between a former political journalist and a lawyer over the increasingly politicised question of how the UK upholds human rights law. In particular it focuses on the role of the European Court of Human Rights which is being blamed for delay and perverse decisions. While in this […]Read more...
Judicial Independence in Northern Ireland
Mon, 26 Nov 2012 11:44:54 +0000
On 6 November the Judicial Independence Project held the sixth in our series of practitioner seminars on ‘Judicial Independence in Northern Ireland’. The series is run under Chatham House Rule but we have prepared a short note which is available on our website. Read it here. A strong theme that emerged from the seminar was […]Read more...
The Crime and Courts Bill and the JAC
Fri, 02 Nov 2012 11:58:14 +0000
[Posted on behalf of Graham Gee. This post original appeared on the UK Constitutional Law Group Blog.] The Crime and Courts Bill resumes its passage through the House of Lords this week. In a post in July, Patrick O’Brien offered some thoughts on proposals in the Bill on judicial appointments. I agree with Patrick’s analysis and merely want to […]Read more...
Judicial Independence and the Supreme Court
Thu, 18 Oct 2012 17:23:50 +0000
On 3 October the Judicial Independence Project held the fifth in our series of practitioner seminars on ‘Judicial Independence and the Supreme Court’. The seminar was run under Chatham House Rule but we have prepared a short note available on our project website: read the note. Amongst the points made by contributors was that statistics […]Read more...
The Blunkett Test
Wed, 05 Sep 2012 11:09:59 +0000
When the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 was being drafted, nearly a decade ago now, one of the issues considered was referred to as ‘The Blunkett Test’: how would the new arrangements work if David Blunkett – a non-lawyer known at the time for his willingness to engage in publicity-friendly criticism of judges and judicial decisions […]Read more...
Judicial Appointments and the Crime and Courts Bill 2012
Mon, 25 Jun 2012 16:03:04 +0000
As part of the Judicial Independence Project we have prepared a short briefing document and comment on some of the changes to judicial appointments envisaged in the new Crime and Courts Bill 2012. The document is available here. The main points are that: The stated philosophy behind Part 2 of the Bill – of leaving […]Read more...
Judicial Independence Across the World: Pakistan
Fri, 15 Jun 2012 15:38:40 +0000
This is the third blog that looks at judicial independence in various countries. We have already examined the situations in Papua New Guinea, Nepal & Morocco. We now turn our attention to Pakistan, where one controversial court case has brought the judiciary, legislature, President and opposition parties into open conflict. In common with some of […]Read more...