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Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, commonly known as Law Lords, were judges appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 to the British House of Lords, as a committee for the house, to exercise its judicial functions, which included acting as the highest court of appeal for most domestic matters. The House of Lords lost its judicial functions upon the establishment of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in October 2009.Lords of Appeal in Ordinary then in office automatically became Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, and those Supreme Court justices who had seats in the House of Lords lost their right to speak and vote there until after their retirement as justices of the new court.
The House of Lords historically had jurisdiction to hear appeals from the lower courts. Theoretically, the appeals were to the King (or Queen) in Parliament, but the House of Commons did not participate in judicial matters. The House of Lords did not necessarily include judges, but it was formerly attended by several judges who gave their opinions when the Lords desired. They did not, however, have the power to vote in the House.
In 1856, to permit legally qualified members to exercise the House's appellate functions without allowing their heirs to swell the size of the House, Sir James Parke, a judge, was created a life peer. The House of Lords refused to admit him, so he had to take his seat as a hereditary peer.
In 1873 William Ewart Gladstone's government passed the Judicature Act, which reorganised the court system and abolished the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords in respect of English appeals. In February 1874, before the Act came into force, Gladstone's Liberal Government fell. The Conservative Benjamin Disraeli became Prime Minister. In 1874 and 1875 Acts were passed delaying the coming into force of the Judicature Act 1873. The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 repealed the provisions rescinding the jurisdiction of the House of Lords. Additionally, the Act provided for the appointment of two persons to be Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, who were to sit in the House of Lords under the dignity of baron. Originally, though they held the rank of baron for life, they served in Parliament only while holding judicial office. In 1889, however, an Act was passed allowing Lords of Appeal to continue to sit and vote in Parliament even after retirement from office.
To be appointed a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary under the 1876 Act, a person was required to have been a practising barrister for a period of fifteen years or to have held a high judicial office—as Lord Chancellor (before 2005) or judge of the Court of Appeal, High Court or Court of Session—for a period of two years. Lords of Appeal in Ordinary were required to retire from judicial office at 70 or 75 years of age, though as barons they continued to serve as members of the House of Lords in its legislative capacity for life.
The statutory retirement age for Lords of Appeal in Ordinary depended on when they were first appointed to judicial office: for those who first became a judge before 31 March 1995, the retirement age is 75 years of age; for those appointed on or after that date, retirement was at 70 years of age (though they were permitted to continue sitting in a part-time capacity as a "Lord of Appeal" until the age of 75 years).There have been recent suggestions that the retirement age for the United Kingdom's most senior judges should revert to 75 years of age.
The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 originally provided for the appointment of two Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, who would continue to serve while holding judicial office, though in 1887, they were permitted to continue to sit in the House of Lords for life, with the style and dignity of baron. The number of Lords of Appeal in Ordinary was increased incrementally over the years—to three in 1882, to four in 1891, to six in 1913, to seven in 1919, to nine in 1947, to eleven in 1968 and to twelve in 1994. The Administration of Justice Act 1968 allowed the Sovereign to make a Statutory Instrument, if each House of Parliament passed a resolution approving a draft of the same, increasing the maximum number of Lords of Appeal in Ordinary.
Only Lords of Appeal in Ordinary received salaries: in 2004, the salary for the Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary was £185,705, and for other Lords of Appeal in Ordinary it was £179,431.
In exercising the judicial functions of the House of Lords, Lords of Appeal in Ordinary were sometimes joined by other Lords of Appeal. Lords of Appeal included holders or former holders of high judicial office who were members of the House of Lords, but not by virtue of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act (e.g. life peers under the Life Peerages Act 1958). The Lords of Appeal continue to hold the style for life.
The two most senior Lords of Appeal in Ordinary were designated the Senior and Second Senior Lords of Appeal in Ordinary respectively. The Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary historically was the Law Lord who was senior by virtue of having served in the House for the longest period. With the appointment of Lord Bingham of Cornhill in 2000, however, it became an appointed position.
The Second Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary became the peer who had served for the longest period. Lord Hope of Craighead succeeded to this position on Lord Hoffmann's retirement on 20 April 2009.
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by appointment, heredity or official function. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster.
The Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1873. It reorganised the English court system to establish the High Court and the Court of Appeal, and also originally provided for the abolition of the judicial functions of the House of Lords with respect to England. It would have retained those functions in relation to Scotland and Ireland for the time being. However, the Gladstone Liberal government fell in 1874 before the Act entered into force, and the succeeding Disraeli Conservative government suspended the entry into force of the Act by means of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Commencement) Act 1874 and the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1875.
The peerage in the United Kingdom is a legal system comprising both hereditary and lifetime titles, composed of various noble ranks, and forming a constituent part of the British honours system. The term peerage can be used both collectively to refer to the entire body of nobles, and individually to refer to a specific title. British peerage title holders are termed peers of the Realm. The peerage's fundamental roles are ones of government, peers being eligible to a seat in the House of Lords, and of meritocracy, the receiving of any peerage being the highest of British honours.
Whilst the House of Lords of the United Kingdom is the upper chamber of Parliament and has government ministers, it for many centuries had a judicial function. It functioned as a court of first instance for the trials of peers, for impeachments, and as a court of last resort in the United Kingdom and prior, the Kingdom of England.
The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking among the Great Officers of State who are appointed regularly in the United Kingdom, nominally outranking the Prime Minister. The Lord Chancellor is outranked only by the Lord High Steward, another Great Officer of State, who is appointed only for the day of coronations and to preside over impeachment trials of peers. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. Prior to their Union into the Kingdom of Great Britain, there were separate lord chancellors for the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland; there were Lord Chancellors of Ireland until 1922.
The Court of Session is the supreme civil court of Scotland and constitutes part of the College of Justice; the supreme criminal court of Scotland is the High Court of Justiciary. The Court of Session sits in Parliament House in Edinburgh and is both a trial court and a court of appeal. Decisions of the court can be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, with the permission of either the Inner House or the Supreme Court. The Court of Session and the local sheriff courts of Scotland have concurrent jurisdiction for all cases with a monetary value in excess of £100,000; the pursuer is given first choice of court. However, the majority of complex, important, or high value cases are brought in the Court of Session. Cases can be remitted to the Court of Session from the sheriff courts, including the Sheriff Personal Injury Court, at the request of the presiding sheriff. Legal aid, administered by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, is available to persons with little disposable income for cases in the Court of Session.
The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court in Scotland. The High Court is both a trial court and a court of appeal. As a trial court, the High Court sits on circuit at Parliament House or in the adjacent former Sheriff Court building in the Old Town in Edinburgh, or in dedicated buildings in Glasgow and Aberdeen. The High Court sometimes sits in various smaller towns in Scotland, where it uses the local sheriff court building. As an appeal court, the High Court sits only in Edinburgh. On one occasion the High Court of Justiciary sat outside Scotland, at Zeist in the Netherlands during the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, as the Scottish Court in the Netherlands. At Zeist the High Court sat both as a trial court, and an appeal court for the initial appeal by Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
In the United Kingdom, life peers are appointed members of the peerage whose titles cannot be inherited, in contrast to hereditary peers. In modern times, life peerages, always created at the rank of baron, are created under the Life Peerages Act 1958 and entitle the holders to seats in the House of Lords, presuming they meet qualifications such as age and citizenship. The legitimate children of a life peer are entitled to style themselves with the prefix "The Honourable", although they cannot inherit the peerage itself.
The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that altered the judicial functions of the House of Lords. The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1887 allowed senior judges to sit in the House of Lords as life peers, known as Lords of Appeal in Ordinary.
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, relevant to UK constitutional law. It provides for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the previous appellate jurisdiction of the Law Lords as well as some powers of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and removed the functions of Speaker of the House of Lords and Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales from the office of Lord Chancellor.
The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom for civil cases, and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population, including disputes relating to devolution.
Donald Sage Mackay, Baron Mackay of Drumadoon, PC, QC was a British judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland, and a Lord Advocate, the country's senior Law Officer. He was also one of five additional Lords of Appeal in the House of Lords, where he sat as a crossbencher.
The Inner House is the senior part of the Court of Session, the supreme civil court in Scotland; the Outer House forms the junior part of the Court of Session. It is a court of appeal and a court of first instance. The chief justice is the Lord President, with their deputy being the Lord Justice Clerk, and judges of the Inner House are styled Senators of the College of Justice or Lords of Council and Session. Criminal appeals in Scotland are handled by the High Court of Justiciary sitting as the Court of Appeal.
The supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and highcourt of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisions of a supreme court are not subject to further review by any other court. Supreme courts typically function primarily as appellate courts, hearing appeals from decisions of lower trial courts, or from intermediate-level appellate courts.
The judiciary of the United Kingdom are the separate judiciaries of the three legal systems in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. However, the judges of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, Employment Tribunals, Employment Appeal Tribunal and the UK tribunals system do have a United Kingdom–wide jurisdiction. In employment law, employment tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal have jurisdiction in the whole of Great Britain.
The President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is equivalent to the now-defunct position of Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, also known as the Senior Law Lord, who was the highest ranking among the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary. The President is not the most senior judge of the judiciary in England and Wales; that position belongs to the Lord Chief Justice.
Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom are the judges of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom other than the president and the deputy president. The Supreme Court is the highest in the whole of the United Kingdom for civil matters, and for criminal matters from the United Kingdom jurisdictions of England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Judges are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, who receives recommendations from a selection commission. The number of judges is set by s.23(2) Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which established the Court, but may be increased by the Queen through an Order in Council under s.23(3). There are currently 12 positions: one President, one Deputy President, and 10 Justices. Judges of the Court who are not already peers are granted the style Lord or Lady for life.