This week, the justices of the Supreme Court—who are normally based in London—have crossed the Severn Bridge and taken their seats in Cardiff.
The Supreme Court was formed back in 2009 as a replacement to the judicial function of the House of Lords, and is the highest court of appeal available for any case (be it criminal or civil) entering the legal system in the UK. It hears matters of high constitutional importance—providing a definitive say on the legal issues at hand—in turn forming a precedent for future judges to follow.
Since the beginning of its existence, it has always sat permanently in Parliament Square in London. Over the last few years though, it has temporarily moved its base and travelled to Ireland and Scotland. Now, following an announcement in March by Lady Hale (the President of the Supreme Court), it finally makes its way to Wales.
The Court will sit in the Tŷ Hywel building in the National Assembly whilst the Assembly is in recess, and three cases will be heard concerning a:
Commenting on the visit to Cardiff Bay, Lady Hale hopes it will go some way in showing the work done by the Court in each of the capital cities in the United Kingdom and that:
We are the Supreme Court for the whole United Kingdom … And we’re very conscious that the United Kingdom is not just London, is not just England.”
It’s therefore anticipated that the Court’s ability to be mobile around the UK will promote transparency, as well as public access to the UK’s highest court and, in Wales’ case, put it on the judicial map.