Neuberger elevation leaves questions over judicial implementation of Jackson reforms

Neuberger: three-year stint as MR

The appointment today of Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, currently Master of the Rolls, as the next president of the Supreme Court leaves uncertainly as to who will drive judicial implementation of the Jackson reforms.

Lord Neuberger will succeed Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, who steps down from the role as the most senior judge in the UK on 30 September 2012. The new president will be sworn in at a special ceremony at the court on 1 October 2012.

His replacement as Master of the Rolls – and with it chairman of both the Civil Justice Council and the Judicial Steering Group overseeing implementation of the Jackson reforms – has not yet been announced. There is speculation that Lord Dyson may step down from the Supreme Court to take the role.

The Judicial Steering Group’s other members are Lord Justice Moore-Bick, Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Mr Justice Ramsey, who is standing in for Lord Justice Jackson as he recovers from an operation for cancer.

Lord Neuberger, who has been Master of the Rolls since 2009, said: “It is a great honour to have been given the opportunity to serve as the president of the UK Supreme Court and to work with the eleven other distinguished members of the Court. The UK Supreme Court, like its predecessor, the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords, is rightly respected throughout the world.

“Together with the other members of the court, I will do my best to ensure that it continues to play its proper role in upholding the rule of law, and applying and developing the law in a coherent and principled and practical way, appropriate for today’s world.”

His appointment as President of the Supreme Court was made by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor, following the recommendation of an independent selection commission chaired by Lord Phillips. The commission consulted across each of the Supreme Court’s three UK jurisdictions before making its recommendation.

Lord Phillips said: “Identifying a successor to lead the Supreme Court into the next phase of its life was inevitably a task I approached with mixed feelings – a degree of pride in preparing to hand over leadership of an organisation which has maintained a smooth and efficient service as the UK’s highest court following the significant changes brought about by the Constitutional Reform Act, but also an element of sadness in leaving that same organisation.

“But in Lord Neuberger I know we have an extremely talented new president, who brings not only a wealth of judicial experience but the ability to lead a collegiate court. I wish him all the very best and I only hope that he enjoys this very special honour as much as I have.”