In October 2009, the Supreme Court replaced the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords as the highest court in the United Kingdom. The Supreme Court’s 12 Justices maintain the highest standards set by the Appellate Committee, but are now explicitly separate from both Government and Parliament.
The Court hears appeals on arguable points of law of the greatest public importance, for the whole of the United Kingdom in civil cases, and for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in criminal cases. Additionally, it hears cases on devolution matters under the Scotland Act 1998, the Northern Ireland Act 1988 and the Government of Wales Act 2006. This jurisdiction was transferred to the Supreme Court from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The Supreme Court sits in the former Middlesex Guildhall, on the western side of Parliament Square. In this location, the Supreme Court forms part of a pre-existing quadrangle made up of the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the Treasury. This new location is therefore, highly symbolic of the United Kingdom’s separation of powers, balancing judiciary and legislature across the open space of Parliament Square.