FAQs

FAQs

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC)

The Building

Facilities

Access to information and advice

Professional users

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The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC)

What is the JCPC?

The JCPC is the final court of appeal for a number of Commonwealth countries, the crown dependencies and United Kingdom overseas territories.

It also hears very occasional appeals from a number of ancient and ecclesiastical courts. These include the Church Commissioners, the Arches Court of Canterbury, the Chancery Court of York, prize courts and the Court of Admiralty of the Cinque Ports.

When was the JCPC established?

The jurisdiction of the Privy Council originates from Norman times but the present constitution of the JCPC is based on the Judicial Committee Act 1833.

In the 1920s, the JCPC was said to be the final court of appeal for more than a quarter of the world, including countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India.

When the British Empire became the Commonwealth of Nations, many countries established their own 'Supreme Court' to serve as their final court of appeal. However, some chose to retain their legal links with the United Kingdom and the JCPC.

Why does the JCPC sit in the same building as the UK Supreme Court?

The JCPC and the UK Supreme Court share, to a large extent, the same judges and administrative functions, so it makes sense for them to be located together in the same building.

JCPC appeals take place primarily in Courtroom 3, but occasionally, when a JCPC hearing is expected to draw large numbers of people, the appeal is heard in Courtroom 1 instead.

Who are the judges of the JCPC?

Since 1876, the Law Lords (now UK Supreme Court Justices) have been the permanent judges of the JCPC.

In addition, Privy Counsellors who are (or have been) judges of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, the Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland, or of the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland and judges of superior courts in certain Commonwealth nations are all eligible to sit on the Judicial Committee, as long as they are under the age of 75.

How many cases are heard a year by the JCPC?

From 1st April 2012 - 31st March 2013 36 cases were heard by the JCPC.

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The Building

Why was the building called the "Middlesex Guildhall"?

The building which is home to the JCPC was built in 1913 as the headquarters for Middlesex County Council and Quarter Sessions. The Council was abolished (through the formation of the Greater London Council) in 1965 and the building subsequently became Middlesex Crown Court. In 2007, the Crown Court closed its doors and the building underwent a two-year renovation prior to opening as the JCPC in October 2009.

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Facilities

What are the opening hours of the JCPC?

The JCPC is open to the public from 0930 to 1630 (last entry) Monday to Friday. Legal teams may enter from 0830 on days when the court is sitting. The JCPC is closed on weekends except for special occasions such as Open House London weekend, which are advertised on the front page of this website.

Those who are interested in finding out about the history of the building after hours or at the weekend can download our audio guide of the outside of the building which highlights its rich architectural features.

The audio guide lasts around 15 minutes and can be freely downloaded in a number of ways:

  • If you have an iPhone or iPad, search for "Supreme Court tour" on the App Store
  • If you have an Android device, look for "Supreme Court tour" on the Play Store/Market
  • You can also download the audio guide as an MP3 file from this page - simply right click and 'Save As' to your computer, then transfer to your playback device in the usual way

For more information, please see the audio guide of the exterior page of this website.

How do I get to the JCPC?

Please see the How to find us section of this website for details of our location and travel information.

Is the JCPC wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the JCPC is completely wheelchair accessible.

Are there visual impairment facilities at the JCPC?

Yes. We can provide large print and Braille versions of our key visitor leaflet for you to use during your visit.

We also offer tours specifically designed for those with visual impairments. Please email Enquiries for more information and to book onto a tour.

The JCPC also has Braille notices on the toilet doors and our website has also met the required standards for text size and undergone independent auditing to ensure use of good practice in web accessibility.

Does the JCPC have a hearing loop?

Yes. To make use of this please turn your hearing aid to 'T' upon entry to the building.

Can I sit in the courtroom and walk around the building?

Yes. When the court is in session, members of the public are more than welcome to sit in the public gallery (the rows of benches at the back of the courtroom), provided they turn off their mobile phones. If you do not wish to watch a hearing or there are none occurring during your visit, then you are more than welcome to walk around the building and see the other courtrooms not currently in use, as well as explore our educational exhibition which is situated on the lower ground floor.

Can I access the Library?

No. The Library is only for the use of the JCPC judges and their Judicial Assistants. However, its doors are opened to the public on Open House London weekend and selected other dates, which are advertised on the front page of this website.

Can I take photos around the building?

Yes. Photography is allowed inside the JCPC but not in any of the courtrooms which are in session or prepared for hearings that day.

When does the JCPC sit?

During term time the JCPC generally sits from Monday to Thursday; usually from 11am on Mondays, and from 10.30am Tuesday - Thursday until 4.00pm. (There is a break at lunchtime from 1.00pm - 2.00pm.)

Is there a minimum age for admission to the courtrooms?

No. We do not have a minimum age for admission to the courtrooms

If I decide to watch a hearing, do I have to stay in the courtroom for a minimum amount of time?

No. There is no minimum time for which you must stay in the courtroom to watch a hearing.

However, if you are present in a courtroom where the hand-down of a judgment is taking place, we ask that you remain in the courtroom for the duration of the hand-down (normally around 15 minutes.)

Are there any rules which I need to observe during a hearing?

Not really, other than those relating to the use of cameras covered elsewhere on this page. It is customary to stand and bow to the Justices whenever they enter and leave the courtroom. Please also note that items of clothing or other materials bearing messages that undermine the dignity of the court or which seek to interfere with the proper administration of justice will not be permitted into the building.

Can I take photos in the courtroom during a hearing?

No. However, it is customary to bow to the Judges whenever they enter and leave the courtroom.

Can I "tweet" or text from the courtroom during a hearing?

Yes, usually, subject to any directions from the Judges.

Further details can be found in our Policy on the use of live, text-based communications from Court on The Supreme Court website.

Do you provide information about the appeals which are being heard by the JCPC?

Yes. Visitors can pick up case summaries for the appeal being heard on the day of their visit from the Reception Desk and other information is available on our Current cases section.

Where can I buy refreshments?

The JCPC has a café on the lower ground floor, which serves a range of hot and cold food and drinks.

Is there anywhere to leave my belongings?

No. Due to space and security issues we do not have anywhere to store visitors' belongings.

What should I do if I lose my personal belongings while at the JCPC?

Please contact our Security team. More information can be found in our lost property policy on this website.

Are there baby changing facilities?

Yes. There is a disabled toilet on the lower ground floor, which also has baby changing facilities.

Does the JCPC sell souvenirs?

Yes. A range of souvenirs can be purchased from the café on the lower ground floor of the building.

Please see the Shop section of this website for more information.

Do you provide information leaflets?

Yes. We offer a range of information leaflets covering the JCPC, UK Supreme Court and the history and architecture of the Middlesex Guildhall building.

Do you offer guided tours for members of the public?

Yes. For a small charge, visitors can join one of our Friday guided tours. You can book for up to 25 people, provided there are spaces available.

Please see the Guided tours section of this website for more information.

Please note that external tour groups (where a tour operator is charging to guide a group around the building) are charged at £2 per head, in order to regulate the number of such parties and to help reduce the Court’s demands on public resources.

Do you offer tours for educational institutions?

Yes. We offer free tours for groups of up to 25-30 people. To avoid disappointment, tours should be booked at least 10 weeks in advance.

Please see the School & college tours section of this website for more information and our educational visits booking form.

Can I do an audio guided tour of the building?

We do not have an audio guided tour for the inside of the building.

However, those interested can download an audio guide of the outside of the building which highlights its rich architectural features.

The audio guide lasts around 15 minutes and can be freely downloaded in a number of ways:

  • If you have an iPhone or iPad, search for "Supreme Court tour" on the App Store
  • If you have an Android device, look for "Supreme Court tour" on the Play Store/Market
  • You can also download the audio guide as an MP3 file from this page - simply right click and 'Save As' to your computer, then transfer to your playback device in the usual way

For more information please see the audio tour of exterior section of this website.

Is there an exhibition?

Yes. We have a free permanent exhibition about the history and work JCPC and UK Supreme Court on the lower ground floor of the building.

For more information, and for details of our temporary summer exhibitions, please see the Exhibition - what's on section of this website.

Are there any activities for children?

Yes. We have a quiz sheet aimed at 5-10 year olds, which they can complete while exploring the building. Older children may be interested in the interactive educational exhibition on the lower ground floor.

Is it possible to meet a JCPC judge in person?

As you will appreciate, the Judges spend the bulk of their time in the building sitting in court, preparing for cases and writing judgments, so they are rarely available to address visiting groups.

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Access to information and advice

How do I ask for information under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act or submit a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act?

The JCPC aims to make as much information as possible available through our FOI Publication Scheme. If the information you require is not available through our Publication Scheme you may send your request to:

Paul Brigland
Departmental Records Officer
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Parliament Square
London
SW1P 3DB

Email Paul Brigland

Remember that the FOI Act gives you the right to ask for recorded information held by public authorities, and if it is held, to be provided with that information, subject to certain exemptions. Court records, for example, are exempt from disclosure under section 32. The FOI Act does not give the right to seek opinions, legal interpretation or explanations.

Please remember that the FOI Act gives you the right to ask for recorded information held by public authorities, and if it is held, to be provided with that information, subject to certain exemptions. Court records, for example, are exempt from disclosure under section 32. The FOI Act does not give the right to seek opinions, legal interpretation or explanations.

If you wish to apply for access to your personal data, known as a "subject access request" under the Data Protection Act, please refer to the relevant part of our Publication Scheme or write to Paul Brigland whose contact details are given above.

Does the JCPC provide advice on legal matters?

No. The JCPC does not provide a legal information or advice service. Registry staff can only advise on procedural matters in relation to the cases which come before the JCPC. The JCPC's judgments are available as part of our Publication Scheme and can be viewed on the Decided Cases page of this website.

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Professional Users

Can I appeal to the JCPC?

The Jurisdiction of the JCPC can be found in Practice Direction 1 in the Court Procedures section of this website.

What are the opening hours of the Registry?

The Registry is open from 1000 to 1600 on Mondays to Thursdays during the law terms and from 1000 to 1600 on Fridays and outside the law terms. During August the Registry is open from 1000 to 1400.

The Registry is open on every day of the year except:

  1. Saturdays and Sundays,
  2. the Thursday before Good Friday, Good Friday and the day after Easter Monday,
  3. during the Christmas vacation (a two week period over Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, published on this website in December),
  4. Bank Holidays in England and Wales under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, and
  5. such other days as the Registrar, with the agreement of the President and the Chief Executive, may direct.
To whom should cheques for court fees be made payable?

Cheques should be made payable to "Judicial Committee Fees Account".

Details of fees payable can be found via the Rules of the Committee page of this website.

How long does it take for my case to be processed once I have handed in my form and documents?

Applications for permission to appeal take approximately eight sitting weeks to be determined. Parties will be informed by letter and/or email.

How can I find out the term dates of the JCPC?

Please see the Term dates page of this website for details.

How can I find out when a case is due to be heard by the JCPC?

Please visit the Court sittings section of this website for the dates and times of forthcoming cases.

Can I get a copy of a party's 'skeleton argument' or case?

The JCPC does not publish parties' cases. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of such papers you are encouraged to contact the parties directly with their request. Parties should note that, generally speaking, the JCPC has no objection to them releasing their cases (skeleton arguments).

Should parties decline a request made of them for disclosure of their case, an application can be lodged with the Registrar seeking such disclosure.

How can I find out when a judgment is due to be published?

As soon as we are aware of the hand-down date for a judgment, it is published on the Future judgments section of this website. As a very broad indication, judgments tend to follow approximately 12 weeks (excluding vacation) after the conclusion of the appeal hearing.

We are unable to give any indication of the likely hand-down date for judgments not listed on the 'Future judgments' page, and you may find it more helpful to check that page regularly rather than contacting us about dates.

Can I sign up to receive the latest judgments from the JCPC?

Currently, this facility is not available for cases heard by the JCPC.

How can I access footage of JCPC hearings?

On the front page of this website there is a link to JCPC Live which takes you directly to our live streaming service where you can watch live proceedings of JCPC cases.

Footage from most hearings is uploaded to the relevant case profile page in our Current cases section the day after the session takes place. Footage from the Justice's summary in court when handing down judgment is uploaded to the relevant case profile page in our Decided cases section, usually on the day of the judgment itself.

Case footage will remain available to watch for approximately one year after the hearing; judgment summary footage will remain available indefinitely. It is necessary to limit the archive size in order to manage the digital storage costs of the project, as is standard practice for many 'on demand' systems.

Given our investment in this service, we are unable to provide footage of past cases or judgments to members of the public or the legal profession in other formats: it is extremely resource-intensive for us to convert our broadcast-quality footage to domestic level DVDs or other output formats. Educational establishments or media organisations seeking copies of past hearings or judgments should contact the Communications team.

How do I get passes for my Legal team?

Passes are not required for access to the Court or to private meeting rooms, which should be booked with our caterers in advance of the hearing. Use the booking form on the Court forms page of this website.

How do I book lunch for my Legal team?

Please see the Hospitality services section of this website for details.

Are there meeting room facilities available for me to hold private discussions with my Legal team?

You can book private meeting rooms for use while you are appearing at court by completing a meeting room booking form and returning it to our caterers any time from three weeks before the hearing (but no later than 1700 one clear working day before the hearing). You will be charged £100+VAT per day for use of a meeting room. Payment will be taken by credit /debit card over the telephone and receipts issued along with booking confirmation. Booked rooms will be available for access from 0830-1630.

Private meeting space is made available freely to lawyers acting pro bono or under a legal aid certificate, who should contact our Corporate Hospitality Manager rather than our caterers to make arrangements.

How do I find my allocated meeting room on arrival?

Please speak to colleagues at our Reception desk (staffed from 0900) who will be happy to help. For safety and security reasons, professional users should also report to the desk to sign in upon arrival.

Is Wi-Fi available at the JCPC?

Free high-speed broadband access is available for professional court users (lawyers actively involved in proceedings, and accredited journalists covering proceedings). Once you have Wi-Fi switched on, look for the 'SUP Lawyers' network. The password is available from the Reception or Registry desks upon arrival at the court, and the code is changed regularly for security reasons. For other visitors (including those attending guided tours), BT OpenZone has good coverage throughout the building, including the courtrooms. However, in common with most other Government buildings, the latter service is not provided free of charge, and you need to set up an account with BT in advance in order to use it. Alternatively, you can 'pay as you go' by credit or debit card by connecting to the BT OpenZone network with the strongest signal and then following the on-screen instructions via your browser.

Can I book the JCPC as a venue for an event?

Yes. The Court has two rooms for hire for corporate events in the evening or during recess. We can accommodate a maximum of 70 guests for a sit down dinner or 120 guests for a drinks reception.

For more information, please see our dedicated venue hire website or email our Events Manager

Can I apply to do work experience at the JCPC?

No. Unfortunately, we do not have the staff resources to support students wishing to spend time here on work experience, and the nature of our work makes it difficult for us to permit non-staff to have access to our office systems. To be fair to everyone, we can therefore not assist with any such requests.

However, students are always welcome to visit the Court to sit in on cases and look round our educational exhibition.

If you are interested in a career in law, depending on where you live, you might also like to try:

Can I apply to 'marshal' a JCPC judge?

No. The JCPC's judicial support arrangements mean we are unable to offer such opportunities.

If you are interested in marshalling you are advised to contact your local Crown Court and ask if any Circuit Judges are taking on a marshal or, if you are affiliated to one of the Inns of Court, you should approach a judge through them.

It is worth noting that applicants are usually expected to have completed either the Legal Practice Course or the Bar Vocational Course before they apply for marshalling.

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