Supreme Court hearing ‘fewer but longer’ appeals

Lord Neuberger

Lord Neuberger: “unusual number of particularly demanding cases”

The Supreme Court heard over 25% fewer appeals in the year to 31 March 2015, its latest annual report has shown.

The number of appeals heard fell from 120 to 89, and the number of judgments from 115 to 81, despite the court sitting for nine more days.

A spokesman for the court said among the reasons for the drop were longer hearings and fewer linked appeals. An increase in the number of appeals heard by seven or nine justices, from 9% of cases to 12%, was also cited as a factor.

However, the number of applications for permission to appeal considered by the Supreme Court rose by 34% to 269 during the year.

The spokesman said there was a particular increase in applications to bring criminal appeals (from eight to 19) and public law appeals involving employment (seven to 15) and housing (four to 11).

There was a big fall in the number of applications for the Supreme Court to hear appeals about legal procedure, from 38 to 22.

The justices granted permission to appeal in a smaller proportion of judicial review, immigration and family law cases than the year before, but an increased proportion of criminal and housing cases.

Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, said in his foreword to the report that for the first time since the court opened in October 2009 there were no changes of justices, bringing a “welcome period of stability”.

However, he said: “We have had an unusual number of particularly demanding cases, which is reflected in the fact that the average time between hearing and judgment has increased from last year, and the number of decisions is lower than last year.”

Lord Neuberger said he had held “regular, but not frequent” meetings with former justice secretary Chris Grayling and the Law Officers, along with his annual appearance with deupty president Lady Hale before the House of Lords constitution committee.

The president said that although it would take time for recent changes to “work their way through the system”, the increase in the number of litigants in person applying for permission to appeal had been maintained. The current figure is 24 out of a total of 231 permission applications.


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