Resources connected with the UK Supreme Court

You know how it is. You’ve only just got round to updating your constitution by introducing a final appellate court that isn’t uncomfortably entangled with the legislature, when along comes an official report which wants to change its jurisdiction – or even do away with the need for it altogether. Of course, I’m referring to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

The Supreme Court  www.supremecourt.gov.uk

The Supreme Court’s website got off to an awkward start in life when influential blawger Jennie (http://jennielaw.blogspot.com/) launched an attack on it in an post titled “The Supreme Court website – what’s the point of it again?” Jennie describes herself as a “Library Monkey” for a law firm in Edinburgh and therefore knows what she’s talking about. Her main criticisms (which found a wide consensus out there in cyberspace) were that (1) the “Decided Cases” section did not contain any decided cases, which were instead hidden elsewhere in the site; and (2) there were no RSS feeds available for news or judgments from the court.

So, some five months on from that broadside, has the site recovered? Has it improved?

I visited the Decided Cases and was relieved to find that it did indeed contain decided cases, including their neutral citations and both press summaries and full judgments available in PDF. The site lists them in strict alphanumerical order by neutral citation, which would make sense if the sequence started with “01” – but it doesn’t. So the cases are listed in this order “9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 17, 16”, etc – which is somewhat frustrating. And, no – there were no RSS feeds for news or judgments.

On a brighter note, the site actually performs quite well in providing information on a broad range of topics from “how to appeal”, to the art you might spy at the court, and even a menu of catering options available to legal teams at the court. I also discovered that, while the court fees were somewhat steep (e.g. £1,600 for filing a notice of appeal), the photocopying (at 50p per sheet) is cheaper than in most sheriff courts.

In all seriousness, if you actually had a case to be heard there, then the site provides all the rules of court, procedural information and practice directions at your fingertips and these are both easy to find and set in what is an attractive looking website.

The Accessibility page “will be available here shortly” – which is I suspect webspeak for “we’ve forgotten about this” or “we don’t care much about this”. Similarly, the education section invites visitors to “come back for more details during autumn 2009”.

It’s not a bad site, it’s just that you feel for the highest court in the land, it should be a bit more… supreme.

UKSC blog  www.ukscblog.net

Operated as a joint venture between Olswang Solicitors (www.olswang.com) and Matrix Chambers (www.matrixlaw.co.uk), the blog was set up to “provide commentary on the UK Supreme Court and its judgments”.

The blog is certainly a heavyweight affair, boasting many learned contributors, and is updated at a furious pace, often with more than one (lengthy) post a day – including weekends.

There is much to be read here which would be of interest to Scottish lawyers; and not just from the Supreme Court: there are also reports from relevant decisions by the European Court of Human Rights, and the Walker Report (http://bit.ly/8u2N0J) had already (only one working day after its publication) led to two considered treatments of its implications.

Finally, for those exercised by the lack of an RSS feed on the court’s website, rest assured that there is one here and therefore you can keep up-to-date with Supreme Court news and judgments without visiting its home page on a daily basis.

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council  www.jcpc.gov.uk

Constitutional law was never my strongest suit and so you’ll excuse me if I describe the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as basically being the Supreme Court with a different hat on. Accepting that basic premise, it may come as no surprise that the website is exactly the same as the Supreme Court’s website, but in a slightly different colour scheme and some (though not a great deal) text substitution.

See the Supreme Court’s web review (above) for a full discussion of the merits and shortcomings of this website.

Who writes this column?

The website review column is written by Iain A Nisbet of Govan Law Centre        e: iain@absolvitor.com

All of these links and hundreds more can be found at www.absolvitor.com

I also discovered that, while the court fees were somewhat steep (e.g. £1,600 for filing a notice of appeal), the photocopying (at 50p per sheet) is cheaper than in most sheriff courts

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