Fewer cases brought to Supreme Court

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Jun 30, 2017
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The number of cases actually heard in the UK's highest court fell by one in 2016-17

John Stillwell/PA

Applications for permission to appeal to the country’s highest court dropped by more than 10 per cent over the last year, figures from the Supreme Court released yesterday showed.

There were 192 applications made to the justices, 11 per cent fewer than the previous year. Court officials pointed to a “marked decrease” in requests to bring appeals in criminal matters, from 19 in 2015-16 to five over the last 12 months.

Applications relating to family law also dropped significantly – down from 18 to eight. Likewise, applications for leave to appeal in immigration law matters dropped from 36 to 25. However, contract law cases bucked the trend, with applications increasing from 6 to 12.

In a year when the media spotlight fell firmly on the justices during Gina Miller’s Article 50 appeal, the Supreme Court justices actually heard one fewer case than they did in 2015-16. They heard 91 over the last year and delivered 76 judgments, five fewer than the total in the previous year.

Despite the high-profile instance of the court sitting with all eleven serving justices for the Miller case, the court still normally sits as a panel of five justices. It sat with seven or nine justices in 12 per cent appeals during 2016-17, down from 14 per cent during 2015-16, which was a record for the court. The court generally sits with more than five justices when it 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 annual report showed that the court’s operating cost, excluding changes to the valuation of the building, increased slightly to £4.8 million from £4.5 million.

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