Skip main navigation

Role, Importance and History

The UK Supreme Court was established by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and began its work in 2009. Watch Dr David Yuratich explain more.

In this step Dr David Yuratich introduces the role of the UK Supreme Court and describes how and when the Court in its current form and location was established.

Key terms:

  • Appellate Court: a court that hears appeals from other courts.
  • Jurisdiction: the right, power or authority to administer justice over a given territory.
  • Executive: the branch of the state responsible for putting decisions or laws into effect.
  • Legislature: a law-making body such as the UK Parliament, the Scottish or Welsh Parliaments or the Northern Ireland Assembly.
  • Intervener: a third party permitted by a court to make arguments in legal proceedings.

Inside the UKSC Extra: an interview with Lord Phillips, the first President of the Supreme Court.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Lord Phillips, Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers, was the last Senior Law Lord, when the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords was still the highest court of appeal, and the first President of the UK Supreme Court (October 2009 – October 2012).

Why is the Supreme Court located in the former Middlesex Guildhall?

The Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) chose the Middlesex Guildhall as the home of the Supreme Court for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is in the right location – that is near the Palace of Westminster. Its location in Parliament Square fitted symbolically too, as it is close to the legislature, the Palace of Westminster, close to the government, represented by the Treasury and also to the established Church, Westminster Abbey. It was also the right size, and it was already owned by the DCA, so it was available once the Crown Court who occupied the building had moved to a new location.

In December 2004 the Lord Chancellor announced to Parliament that the Middlesex Guildhall was the preferred site for the Supreme Court. This was subject to a proposal to be agreed by the Law Lords in terms of the design and a conservative approach to altering the fabric of the building which was advised by Westminster Council and English Heritage.

The UK Supreme Court Online

Did you know that unlike other courts in the UK the proceedings of the Supreme Court are filmed and broadcast? From the Court’s website you can watch live, current or decided cases.

Have you ever visited the UK Supreme Court? What do you think about its location and the ability to watch its sessions online? Tell us in the comments below.

This article is from the free online

Inside the UK Supreme Court: Its Role, Its Work, and Cases that Affect Us All

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now