Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, commonly known as Law Lords, were judges appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 to the British House of Lords in order to exercise its judicial functions, which included acting as the highest court of appeal for most domestic matters. The House of Lords lost its judicial functions upon the establishment of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in October 2009; Lords of Appeal in Ordinary then in office automatically became Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, and those Supreme Court justices that have seats in the House of Lords lost their right to speak and vote there until their retirement as justices of the new court.
The House of Lords historically had jurisdiction to hear appeals from the lower courts. Theoretically, the appeals were to the King- or Queen-in-Parliament, but the House of Commons does not participate in judicial matters. The House of Lords did not necessarily include judges, but it was formerly attended by several judges who gave their opinions when the Lords desired. They did not, however, have the power to vote in the House. In 1856, to permit legally qualified members to exercise the House's appellate functions without allowing their heirs to swell the size of the House, Sir James Parke, a judge, was created a life peer. The House of Lords refused to admit him, so he had to take his seat as a hereditary peer.
In 1873, William Ewart Gladstone's government passed the Judicature Act, which reorganised the court system and abolished the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords in respect of English appeals. In February of the next year, before the Act came into force, Gladstone's Liberal Government fell; the Conservative Benjamin Disraeli became Prime Minister. In 1874 and 1875, acts were passed delaying the coming-into-force of the Judicature Act 1873. The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 repealed the provisions rescinding the jurisdiction of the House of Lords. Additionally, the Act provided for the appointment of two persons to be Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, who were to sit in the House of Lords under the dignity of baron. Originally, though they held the rank of baron for life, they served in Parliament only while holding judicial office; 11 years later, however, an act was passed allowing Lords of Appeal to continue to sit and vote in Parliament even after retirement from office.
To be appointed a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary under the 1876 Act, a person was required to have been a practising barrister for a period of fifteen years or to have held a high judicial office—as lord chancellor (before 2005) or judge of the Court of Appeal, High Court or Court of Session—for a period of two years. Lords of Appeal in Ordinary were required to retire from judicial office at 70 or 75 years of age, though as barons they continued to serve as members of the House of Lords in its legislative capacity for life.
The statutory retirement age for Lords of Appeal in Ordinary depended on when they were first appointed to judicial office: for those who first became a judge before 31 March 1995, the retirement age is 75 years of age; for those appointed on or after that date, retirement was at 70 years of age (though they were permitted to continue sitting in a part-time capacity as a "Lord of Appeal" until the age of 75 years). There have been recent suggestions that the retirement age for the United Kingdom's most senior judges should revert to 75 years of age.
The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 originally provided for the appointment of two Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, who would continue to serve while holding judicial office, though in 1887, they were permitted to continue to sit in the House of Lords for life, with the style and dignity of baron. The number of Lords of Appeal in Ordinary was increased from time to time—to three in 1882, to four in 1891, to six in 1913, to seven in 1919, to nine in 1947, to eleven in 1968 and to twelve in 1994. The Administration of Justice Act 1968 allowed the Sovereign to make a Statutory Instrument, if each House of Parliament passed a resolution approving a draft of the same, increasing the maximum number of Lords of Appeal in Ordinary.
Only Lords of Appeal in Ordinary received salaries: in 2004, the salary for the Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary was £185,705, and for other Lords of Appeal in Ordinary it was £179,431.
In exercising the judicial functions of the House of Lords, Lords of Appeal in Ordinary were sometimes joined by other Lords of Appeal. Lords of Appeal included holders or former holders of high judicial office who were members of the House of Lords, but not by virtue of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act (e.g. life peers under the Life Peerages Act 1958). The Lords of Appeal continue to hold the style for life.
The two most senior Lords of Appeal in Ordinary were designated the Senior and Second Senior Lords of Appeal in Ordinary respectively. The Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary historically was the Law Lord who was senior by virtue of having served in the House for the longest period. With the appointment of Lord Bingham of Cornhill in 2000, however, it became an appointed position.
The Second Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary became the peer who had served for the longest period. Lord Hope of Craighead succeeded to this position on Lord Hoffmann's retirement on 20 April 2009.
The Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities by-election of 1876 was fought on 6–10 November 1876. The byelection was fought due to the resignation (Lords of Appeal in Ordinary) of the incumbent Conservative MP, Edward Strathearn Gordon. It was won by the Conservative candidate William Watson.Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876
The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 (39 & 40 Vict. c.59) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that altered the judicial functions of the House of Lords. The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1887 allowed senior judges to sit in the House of Lords as life peers, known as Lords of Appeal in Ordinary.The act was repealed by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which transferred the judicial functions from the House of Lords to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Following the creation of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the practice of appointing Lords of Appeal in Ordinary was discontinued. The last person to be made a law lord was Sir Brian Kerr on 29 June 2009.Court of Appeal judge (England and Wales)
A Lord Justice of Appeal or Lady Justice of Appeal is an ordinary judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, the court that hears appeals from the High Court of Justice and the Crown Court, and represents the second highest level of judge in the courts of England and Wales. Despite the title, and unlike the former Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, they are not necessarily peers.Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the second most senior judge of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, after the President of the Supreme Court. The office is equivalent to the now-defunct position of Second Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, also known previously as the Second Senior Law Lord, who was the second highest-ranking Lord of Appeal in Ordinary.
The office is currently held by the Lord Reed, having succeeded Lord Mance on his retirement in June 2018.
By Royal Warrant of Queen Elizabeth II published on 1 October 2009, a place for the Deputy President of the Supreme Court in the order of precedence was established: the Deputy President of the Supreme Court ranks after the Master of the Rolls and before the other Justices of the Supreme Court.Henry Keith, Baron Keith of Kinkel
Henry Shanks Keith, Baron Keith of Kinkel (7 February 1922 – 21 June 2002) was a Scottish judge.
The son of James Keith, Baron Keith of Avonholm, Harry Keith was educated in the Edinburgh Academy, at the Magdalen College, Oxford, where he graduated with a Master of Arts and the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Law. In the Second World War, he commanded the Scots Guards and was mentioned in despatches, reaching the rank of Captain. He was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1950, and was made a Queen's Counsel in 1962. In 1951, he had been called to the English Bar from Gray's Inn, where he became a Bencher in 1976.
He appointed as Sheriff of Roxburgh, Berwick and Selkirk in 1970, succeeding David Brand.
He was appointed a Senator of the College of Justice with the judicial title Lord Keith in 1971.
On 10 January 1977, he was appointed Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and was made additionally a life peer with the title Baron Keith of Kinkel, of Strathummel in the District of Perth and Kinross, following in the footsteps of his father, Lord Keith of Avonholm. One year before he had been invested to the Privy Council. In 1996, he retired as Lord of Appeal and in 1997, he was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. It was humorously said within legal circles that wherever there was a negligence case, Lord Keith would always say 'no' to damages.
In 1955 he married Alison Brown, now Lady Keith of Kinkel; they had four sons and a daughter, Deborah. The family lived at Loch Tummel, near Pitlochry, Perthshire.
Lord Keith died in 2002.Ian Fraser, Baron Fraser of Tullybelton
Walter Ian Reid Fraser, Baron Fraser of Tullybelton, (3 February 1911 – 17 February 1989) was a British judge.James Reid, Baron Reid
James Scott Cumberland Reid, Baron Reid (30 July 1890 – 29 March 1975) was a Scottish Unionist politician and judge. His reputation is as one of the most outstanding judges of the 20th century.Judicial functions of the House of Lords
The House of Lords of the United Kingdom, in addition to having a legislative function, historically also had a judicial function. It functioned as a court of first instance for the trials of peers, for impeachment cases, and as a court of last resort within the United Kingdom. In the latter case the House's jurisdiction was essentially limited to the hearing of appeals from the lower courts. Appeals were technically not to the House of Lords, but rather to the Queen-in-Parliament. By constitutional convention, only those lords who were legally qualified (Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, or Law Lords) heard the appeals, since World War II usually in what was known as the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords rather than in the chamber of the House.
During the 20th and early 21st centuries, the judicial functions were gradually removed. The final trial of a peer in the House of Lords was in 1935, and in 1948, the use of special courts for trials of peers was abolished. In 2009 the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom assumed the functions as the new court of final appeal in the UK.Kenneth Diplock, Baron Diplock
William John Kenneth Diplock, Baron Diplock, PC (8 December 1907 – 14 October 1985) was a British judge and Law Lord.Leslie Scarman, Baron Scarman
Leslie George Scarman, Baron Scarman (29 July 1911 – 8 December 2004) was an English judge and barrister, who served as a Law Lord until his retirement in 1986.List of Lords of Appeal
This is a list of the last Lords of Appeal in Ordinary and other Lords of Appeal before the judicial functions of the House of Lords ended in 2009.List of Lords of Appeal in Ordinary
This is a complete list of people who have been appointed a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary under the terms of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876. On 1 October 2009, the Lords Appeal in Ordinary became the first Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
Those appointees who were not already members of the House of Lords were created life peers; for their titles see the list of law life peerages. Initially it was intended that peers created in this way would only sit in the House of Lords while serving their term as judges, but in 1887 (on the retirement of Lord Blackburn) the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1887 provided that former judges would retain their seats for life. Under the terms of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which transferred the judicial functions of the House of Lords to the new Supreme Court, justices of the new court (and other lords holding specified judicial offices) do not have the right to speak and vote in the House until they leave office.Nick Browne-Wilkinson, Baron Browne-Wilkinson
Nicolas Christopher Henry Browne-Wilkinson, Baron Browne-Wilkinson, PC (30 March 1930 – 25 July 2018) was a British judge who served as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary from 1991 to 2000, and Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary from 1998 to 2000.Nick Phillips, Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers
Nicholas Addison Phillips, Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers (called Nick; born 21 January 1938) is a British lawyer and former senior English judge.
Phillips served as the inaugural President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, holding office between October 2009 and October 2012. He is also the last Senior Law Lord and the first Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales to be head of the English judiciary when that function was transferred from the Lord Chancellor in April 2006. Before his chief justiceship, he was Master of the Rolls from 2000 to 2005. He sits as a crossbencher.Non-affiliated members of the House of Lords
Members of the House of Lords are said to be non-affiliated if they do not belong to any parliamentary group. That is, they do not take a political party's whip, nor affiliate to the crossbench group, nor the Lords Spiritual (bishops). Formerly, the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary were also a separate affiliation, but their successors (the Justices of the Supreme Court) are now disqualified from the Lords while in office and are described as "Ineligible" rather than "Non-affiliated".Most non-party Lords Temporal are crossbenchers. Members with senior official roles are counted as non-affiliated while they hold them, to preserve their neutrality; they may (re-)affiliate to a group at the end of their term of office. Some members become non-affiliated after resigning or being expelled from a party, either through a political disagreement or after a scandal such as the 2009 parliamentary expenses scandal. Others have had no party allegiance and choose this designation rather than joining the crossbench.Although the Lord Speaker must drop any party affiliation upon their election, they are not considered as a non-affiliated peer.President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The President of the Supreme Court is the president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The office is equivalent to the now-defunct position of Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, also known as the Senior Law Lord, who was the highest ranking among the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (the judges who exercised the judicial functions of the House of Lords).
The current President is Lady Hale, since 2 October 2017.Richard Wilberforce, Baron Wilberforce
Richard Orme Wilberforce, Baron Wilberforce (11 March 1907 – 15 February 2003), was a British judge.Robert Goff, Baron Goff of Chieveley
Robert Lionel Archibald Goff, Baron Goff of Chieveley, () (12 November 1926 – 14 August 2016) was an English barrister and former Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. He was the original co-author of Goff & Jones, the leading authoritative English law textbook on restitution and unjust enrichment. He subsequently practiced law as a commercial barrister and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1967. He was appointed a High Court judge in 1975, a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1982 and a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1986. He was appointed High Steward of the University of Oxford in 1991, a post he held until 2001.
Goff was known for his modest and courteous manner, which belied a sharp and incisive legal mind. In his obituary, The Telegraph referred to an "unbroken series of successes" in his "glittering legal career". Prominent and landmark cases that Goff presided over included the Spycatcher case, Lloyd's negligence litigation, and cases following the Hillsborough disaster. Following the Hillsborough disaster, Goff ruled, in a landmark judgment involving Tony Bland, that the right to life in cases of persistent vegetative state was not sacrosanct. After his retirement, Goff sat on the bench that decided the extradition of General Augusto Pinochet to Spain for crimes against humanity, following his indictment and arrest. He was notable for being the sole dissenter in that case, with the majority ruling in favour of extradition.Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court (sometimes colloquially referred to by the acronym UKSC or SCOTUK) (Welsh: Y Goruchaf Lys) is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases, and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population.As authorised by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Part 3, Section 23(1) and s. 23, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was formally established on 1 October 2009.
It assumed the judicial functions of the House of Lords, which had been exercised by the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (commonly called "Law Lords"), the 12 judges appointed as members of the House of Lords to carry out its judicial business as the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. Its jurisdiction over devolution matters had previously been exercised by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The current President of the Supreme Court is Baroness Hale of Richmond, and its Deputy President is Lord Reed.