Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

The Supreme Court (initialism: UKSC or the acronym: SCOTUK) is the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom for all civil cases, as well as for criminal cases originating in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It also hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population.[1]

Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Established1 October 2009
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom
LocationMiddlesex Guildhall, Parliament Square, London, England
Coordinates51°30′01″N 0°07′41″W
Composition methodAppointed by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister, following approval of a recommendation by the Secretary of State for Justice
Authorized byConstitutional Reform Act 2005 Section 23(1)
Appeals from
Number of positions12
Websitewww.supremecourt.uk
President
CurrentlyLord Reed of Allermuir
Since13 January 2020
Deputy President
CurrentlyLord Hodge
Since27 January 2020

The Court usually sits in the Middlesex Guildhall in Westminster, though it can sit elsewhere and has, for example, sat in the Edinburgh City Chambers,[2] the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast,[3] and the Tŷ Hywel Building in Cardiff.[4]

The United Kingdom has a doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty,[5] so the Supreme Court is much more limited in its powers of judicial review than the constitutional or supreme courts of some other countries. It cannot overturn any primary legislation made by Parliament. However, as with any court in the UK, it can overturn secondary legislation if, for an example, that legislation is found to be ultra vires to the powers in primary legislation allowing it to be made.

Further, under section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998, the Supreme Court, like some other courts in the United Kingdom, may make a declaration of incompatibility, indicating that it believes that the legislation subject to the declaration is incompatible with one of the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights. Such a declaration can apply to primary or secondary legislation. The legislation is not overturned by the declaration, and neither Parliament nor the government is required to agree with any such declaration. However, if they do accept a declaration, ministers can exercise powers under section 10 of the Human Rights Act to amend the legislation by statutory instrument to remove the incompatibility or ask Parliament to amend the legislation.

As authorised by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Part 3, Section 23(1),[6] the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was formally established on 1 October 2009 and is a non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom.[7] Section 23 of the Constitutional Reform Act limits the number of judges on the Court to 12, though it also allows for this rule to be amended, to further increase the number of judges, if a resolution is passed in both Houses of Parliament.[8]

It assumed the judicial functions of the House of Lords, which had been exercised by the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (commonly called "Law Lords"), the 12 judges appointed as members of the House of Lords to carry out its judicial business as the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. Its jurisdiction over devolution matters had previously been exercised by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The current President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court are Lord Reed of Allermuir and Lord Hodge respectively.