Supreme Court turns back on procedural appeals

Supreme Court: Heading for Cardiff

The Supreme Court is not keen to entertain appeals on procedural points, its annual report has indicated.

It handled 23 permissions to appeal (PTA) applications in relation to procedure in the year to 31 March 2019 – far more than any other category of law – and only granted permission in one of them.

Some 19 were rejected and three were dealt with in another, unspecified way.

Immigration was the next most common area for PTA applications, with the court granting seven and rejecting 10, followed by employment law (four granted, 11 rejected) and family law (one granted, 10 rejected).

In all, the Supreme Court granted 59 PTA applications, rejected 133 and there was “another result” in a further nine – making 201 in total.

Over the year, the court heard 91 appeals and delivered 64 judgments.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which is co-located with the Supreme Court and shares the Court’s administration, heard 66 appeals during 2018-19.

The JCPC gave 40 judgments and received 56 permission to appeal applications, of which nine were granted. The JCPC also received an additional 45 appeals as of right.

The court’s total expenditure was £13.2m, within which net operating costs increased from £4.7m to £5.2m, and salary costs for the 12 justices and 47 staff rose from £6.1m to £6.3m (£3.9m of this was for the judges).

Its operating income of £8m was made up of £6.8m from the various jurisdictions – £6.1m from HM Courts and Tribunals Service, £480,000 from the Scottish government and £240,000 from Northern Ireland Court Service, court fees of £1.1m, and £120,000 from initiatives such as event hire and sales of gift items.

Lords Mance, Sumption and Hughes retired during the year – after three had left in the previous 12 months – and in her introduction to the annual report, Supreme Court president Baroness Hale said: “The changing of the guard has not yet stopped, and this will be my last foreword before I retire in January 2020, followed by Lord Carnwath in March 2020 and Lord Wilson in May 2020.

“It is a remarkable fact that nine out of the 12 justices will have retired between 2017 and 2020, but I know that the strong collegiality of the court and its commitment to professional excellence will stand it in good stead over this challenging period.”

In his introduction, chief executive Mark Ormerod added: “The court continues to work under increasing financial pressure, following the result of the spending review in 2015, which required us to absorb rising salary and other costs in a budget that has not increased materially since the early days of the court’s existence, in 2009-10.

“We have embraced this requirement for increased efficiency and have acquitted ourselves well.

“I am proud that the administration of the court continues, against this tight financial background, to provide a high-quality service to justices, litigants, their representatives and members of the public.”

Having previously sat in Edinburgh and Belfast, he said the court would next month sit in Cardiff.

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