Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Supreme Court [created by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005] of the United Kingdom is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases and criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance. The Supreme Court was established to achieve a complete separation between the United Kingdom’s senior Judges and the Upper House of Parliament, emphasising the independence of the Law Lords and increasing the transparency between Parliament and the courts.

In August 2009 the Justices moved out of the House of Lords (where they sat as the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords) into their own building on the opposite side of Parliament Square. They sat for the first time as a Supreme Court in October 2009.

Supreme Court governed by The Supreme Court Rules 2009 under section 45 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 . These Rules apply to civil and criminal appeals to the Court and to appeals and references under the Court’s devolution jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court hears appeals from the following courts in each jurisdiction:

England and Wales

  1. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division
  2. The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division
  3. (in some limited cases) the High Court


The Court of Session

Northern Ireland

  1. The Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland
  2. (in some limited cases) the High Court

Form of application and permission for an appeal [ Under Rule]

(1) Every application to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal shall be made in the appropriate form.

(2) An application for permission to appeal must be made first to the court below, and an the application may be made to the Supreme Court only after the court below has refused to grant permission to appeal.

18.—(1) Where the Court grants permission to appeal, rules 19 and 20 shall not apply and
(a) the application for permission to appeal shall stand as the notice of appeal;
(b) the grounds of appeal shall be limited to those on which permission has been granted;
(c) the appellant must, within 14 days of the grant by the Court of permission to appeal, file notice under this rule of an intention to proceed with the appeal.

(2) When notice is filed under rule 18(1)(c), the application for permission to appeal will be resealed and the appellant must then—
(a) serve a copy on each respondent and on any person who was an intervener in the court below or whose submissions were taken into account under rule 15; and
(b) file the requisite number of copies and a certificate of service.
(3) In any other case an appellant must file a notice of appeal under rule 19.


26.—(1) After permission to appeal has been granted by the Court or a notice of appeal has been filed, any person and in particular—
(a) any official body or non-governmental organization seeking to make submissions in the public interest,
(b) any person with an interest in proceedings by way of judicial review,
(c) any person who was an intervener in the court below or whose submissions were taken into account under rule 15,
may apply to the Court for permission to intervene in the appeal.

(2) An application under this rule must be made in the appropriate form and shall be considered on paper by a panel of Justices who may refuse permission to intervene or may permit intervention—
(a) by written submissions only; or
(b) by written submissions and oral submissions
and any oral submissions may be limited to a specified duration.

(3) No permission is required—
(a) for an intervention by the Crown under section 5 of the Human Rights Act 1998, or
(b) for an intervention by the relevant officer in a case where the Court is exercising its
devolution jurisdiction.

Requests for expedition

31.—(1) Any request for urgent consideration of an application for permission to appeal or for an expedited hearing must be made to the Registrar.
(2) Wherever possible the views of all parties should be obtained before such a request is made.

Criminal appeals

  1. The Court must apply in accordance with the relevant practice direction the code of practice for victims issued under section 32 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004

The Legal system in England & Wales 

England & Wales Court of Appeal [Supreme Court][[Criminal/ Civil/ Family

England & Wales High Court [Criminal/ Civil/ Family]

Crown Court [Criminal]

Magistrates’ Court [Criminal/ Civil/ Family]

Criminal appeal to the Supreme Court 

Under Administration of Justice Act 1960

Right of appeal.

(1)Subject to the provisions of this section, an appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court, at the instance of the defendant or the prosecutor,—

(a)from any decision of the High Court in a criminal cause or matter;

(2)No appeal shall lie under this section except with the leave of the court below or of the Supreme Court ; and such leave shall not be granted unless it is certified by the court below that a point of law of general public importance is involved in the decision and it appears to that court or to the Supreme Court, as the case may be, that the point is one which ought to be considered by the Supreme Court.

(4)For the purpose of disposing of an appeal under this section the Supreme Court may exercise any powers of the court below or may remit the case to that court.
(5) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, “leave to appeal” means leave to appeal to the Supreme Court under this section.

The right of appeal to the Supreme Court is regulated by statute and is subject to several statutory restrictions. The relevant statutes for civil appeals are:

  • the Administration of Justice (Appeals) Act 1934
  • the Administration of Justice Act 1960
  • the Administration of Justice Act 1969
  • the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978
  • the Court of Session Act 1988
  • the Access to Justice Act 1999.
  • Courts-Martial (Appeals) Act 1968

The Human Rights Act 1998 applies to The Supreme Court in its judicial capacity. But that Act does not confer any general right of appeal to The Supreme Court, or any right of appeal over and above any right of appeal which was provided for in Acts passed before the coming into force of the Human Rights Act 1998 [Registry of The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom]

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