01/2016 - News release
Court's Report reveals increase in larger panels and urgent cases
4 July 2016
The last financial year saw continued growth in the proportion of cases where the Supreme Court sits as a panel of more than five Justices or where parties request the urgent hearing of a case, according to the Court's Annual Report and Accounts laid before Parliament today.
Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, also highlights welcoming personally the Court's 500,000th visitor since 2009 and the launch of an 'on demand' video archive of court proceedings as two key developments over the year.
The Report reveals that almost 100,000 people visited the building over the last twelve months. Lord Neuberger writes: "The numbers of people coming to the Court - be it school parties, guided tours, university moots or simply people wandering in to the building on their visit to Parliament Square - is an important demonstration of our openness. And when account is taken of the live streaming and 'on demand' broadcasting of our hearings and judgments via our website, which allows access throughout the world, I believe that we are doing our best to live up to our aim of making the Court, its processes and its decisions properly accessible."
Supreme Court hearings
The Report sets out how the Supreme Court heard slightly more appeals within fewer sitting days over the course of the year (92 appeals compared to 89 in 2014/15, heard in 104 days compared to 136 in 2014/15). The Court delivered 81 judgments, the same number as in 2014/15.
Analysis of judgments handed down by the Supreme Court during the year shows more decisions relating to children, tax and tort law (up from 1 to 5, 2 to 7 and 1 to 5 judgments respectively against 2014/15), while there were no cases considering detention or extradition issues compared to five of each during the previous year.
The Court has continued to sit more often as a panel of more than five Justices. It typically does so when the Court is being asked to depart from a previous decision of the Supreme Court or the House of Lords, or when a case raises an issue of particularly high constitutional or public importance. The Court sat as a panel of seven or nine in 14% of appeals during 2015/16 (up from 12% last year and 9% in 2013/14).
The Court is also being asked to deal with a growing number of particularly urgent cases. The Annual Report does not detail the number of appeals where the parties formally request expedition, but the number of cases highlighted as having been dealt with within a matter of weeks from initial application to full judgment has risen from three in 2014/15 to nine this year.
Permission to appeal applications
The number of applications for permission to appeal considered by the Justices decreased (by 20% to 215), after a particularly high rate of applications in 2014/15. There was a marked decrease in requests to bring appeals on judicial review matters (from 37 in 2014/15 to 25 this year), contract law (down from 16 to 6) and employment law (15 to 9). Bucking this trend, there was an increase in the number of applications for the Court to hear appeals about immigration (up from 29 to 36).
In considering those applications, the 'grant rate' of cases given permission to appeal dropped to 32% (from 39% in 2014/15). While there were fewer applications for permission to appeal in judicial review cases, the grant rate increased (to 56% of applications), and the proportion of employment, patent, shipping and procedural cases accepted for a full hearing also increased. The Justices granted permission to appeal in a smaller proportion of criminal cases during 2015/16 than the year before.
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which is co-located with the Supreme Court and shares the Court's administration, heard fewer appeals during 2015/16 (45 compared to 60) and gave fewer judgments (48 compared to 57). This reflects a drop in cases being brought from the Committee's various overseas jurisdictions (there were 48 applications for permission to appeal received over the year, compared to 60 last year).
In financial terms, the Court's net operating cost (excluding changes to the valuation of the building) remained at £4.5m. The accounts show that the Supreme Court and JCPC spent £12.5m during 2015/16 (half of which was judicial and staff costs), and recouped almost £8m in court fees, contributions from the UK court services, and other income.
The Annual Report also sets out how the Court met its commitments in areas including international relations, sustainability and information assurance.
The full Report and Accounts can be downloaded from our Publications section.
Ben Wilson - Head of Communications
020 7960 1887
Cheryl Walmsley - Communications & Outreach Manager
020 7960 1886