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Legal System: The New Supreme Court of the United Kingdom - Essay Example

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The creation of a Supreme Court was an unnecessary and overly-expensive reform. The Appellate Committee of the House of Lords was independent, effective and was regarded as one of the finest courts in the world.’  Discuss. The New Supreme Court of the United Kingdom: Unnecessary and Costly Reform or Idea Whose Time Has Come?…
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Legal System: The New Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
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Download file to see previous pages Some critics have scorned this latest legal development as a cosmetic change that will burden the nation’s coffers, whilst some fear that it would lead to an American-style assertiveness wherein “the new top court will trump the role of legislators” (Bryan-Low and Bravin, 2009). Yet, there are many who laud it as a democratic development that will be in sync with modern politics and its plethora of challenges. This paper will evaluate the debate and determine whether or not the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was a step in the right direction. It will argue that rather than being an unnecessary and overly-expensive reform, it actually is a legal innovation that must be lauded. This paper argues in the main that the creation of the Supreme Court is in sync with the time-honoured principle of separation of powers, and that this separation of powers is a way by which the judiciary can check on the parliament and counter possible abuses by the legislature and the executive. It then proceeds to make the point that it is in keeping with our commitment to human rights as a member of the European Union that a Supreme Court that is not attached to the parliament is an absolute imperative. Though the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords was indeed independent, effective and well-regarded, the demands of the present time are far different from the past and now more than ever, it becomes imperative that the judiciary not only be independent, but also appear independent. Separation of Powers The doctrine of separation of powers is a time-honoured doctrine in a democratic polity. This doctrine proposes that the state is divided into three co-equal branches: the executive, legislative and the judiciary, with each branch acting as “check and balance” against the possible excesses of the other. According to American scholar Malcolm Sharp, “the fear of power concentrated in the hands of a single class or group has, among other things, influenced the doctrine of the separation of powers among the various organs of government.”1 In the United Kingdom, however, this doctrine had not been followed. The members of the executive is drawn up from the Parliament, and in the Lord Chancellor (a position that dates back all the way to the 7th century) is reposed the three arms of the state, in that he is a Cabinet minister, a member of the House of Lords and the head of the Judiciary. However, many quarters felt that as long as the system was working, there was no need to change it or to hew closer to American counterparts. And certainly, there were mechanisms within the state to ensure judicial independence. For example, judges of the high court cannot be removed from office without an address that was passed by both Houses of Parliament. It is also exceedingly complex (and deliberately so) to sue or prosecute a judge for functions related to handing down decisions. Be that as it may, the demands of modern governance require that judges be independent from the executive. This independence certainly does not mean an uncoordinated bureaucracy, or a chaotic structure with no clear harmonised policy. Severing the nexus or removing the overlap between judicial functions and parliamentary functions does not, after all, mean keeping both bodies in blinders, oblivious to the needs of the country. It only means creating a separate office with distinct responsibilities. The first reason is that ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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