Lord Hope of Craighead KT and judging in the Supreme Court

On 29th November Buckingham Palace announced the appointment of Lord Hope of Craighead, Deputy president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, to be a Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.

The Order of the Thistle is the highest honour in Scotland, rewarding those Scots that have held public office or who have contributed in a particular way to national life – and Scots Law News congratulates Lord Hope on his receipt of this well deserved honour recognising his contribution as Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Lord President of the Court of Session, Law Lord, and Deputy President of the Supreme Court. Lord Hope said,

"I am extremely honoured to be appointed a Thistle Knight by Her Majesty. I am delighted that my roles within the Scottish legal system have been recognised by this uniquely Scottish distinction."

In a recent interview with the Solicitor's Journal Lord Hope explained how the introduction of the Supreme Court had impacted on the judges in the highest court. The interview is discussed in an excellent new legal blog, the UKSC blog which discusses and summarises developments in the Supreme Court.

Lord Hope notes that having a dedicated court building now gives the justices of the Supreme Court an increased opportunity to discuss cases before judgments are written, and draft judgments are circulated and discussed.

He also notes the flexibility offered by the new court as judgments can be issued in a manner appropriate to the particular case. For example, a judgment can be issued in the traditional manner, or as a single opinion (eg Re B (A Child) [2009] UKSC 5) or a single judgment with the agreement of all justices noted, but with additional comments where appropriate (eg R (A) v B [2009] UKSC 12). However, Lord Hope is keen to stress that the flexibility for the justices of the Supreme Court to give individual judgments avoids the anodyne, anonymous approach where there are single judgments.

On a practical level Lord Hope also notes that – while the House of Lords published judgments in order of seniority – the Supreme Court prints the leading judgment first.