The Law Society Gazette of England and Wales reports that the president of the UK’s Supreme Court has denounced proposals to alter the court’s name and structure, saying such changes “would be widely perceived as an act of spite”.
His comments follow reports in recent months that the UK government was considering changing the name of the UK’s highest court, as well as making changes to its composition.
Appearing before the House of Lords Constitution Committee, Lord Reed said changing the name of the Supreme Court would be a “deliberate downgrading and undermining of the most prestigious common law court in the world”.
“It would not be good for our international reputation,” he said, referring to a suggestion that the court be described as the Upper Court of Appeal.
Lord Reed added that there was nothing new or unusual in the UK about the title of Supreme Court.
“The idea that seems to lie behind this proposal — that calling a court a ‘supreme court’ results in its behaving like the American one — is simply idiotic,” he said.
He pointed out that members of the US Supreme Court were appointed politically, while judges of the UK Supreme Court were not.
Physical hearings preferred
According to the Gazette, Lord Reed also dismissed proposals to use “ad hoc assemblages” of judges rather than a permanent body of 12 judges, describing the measure as an “own goal”.
The judge also told committee members the court had identified significant benefits in holding meetings, events, and public outreach programmes remotely during lockdown.
He added, however, that physical core hearings were more effective than virtual ones.