31st July: In conversation…..

Today, Friday 31st July 2009, brought the curtain down on a venerable institution – the Judicial Committee of The House of Lords – to be transformed on October 1st into The Supreme Court of The United Kingdom. The judges of the Supreme Court are to be styled ‘Justices of the Supreme Court’.

But… there is still a problem… how are they to be referred to in the papers, on television?  As Joshua Rozenberg pointed out in the Law Society Gazette this week… calling them ‘Justice’ is either a bit too American and could lead to confusion with our most senior judges being on a lower level in title terms than a High Court judge (Mr Justice or Mrs Justice ) or the Court of Appeal judge ( Lord Justice or Lady Justice).  Rozenberg suggests that Justice of the Supreme Court Lord Clarke of Stone-cum-Ebony is just not going to fit in the television captions or, I would add,  be capable of being remembered by the average television autocue based presenter/interviewer.

I opened a bottle of Rioja and imagined a conversation between two men who meet in the pub quite a lot.  I shall call them  Man in a Hat and Man in a Cap.

Man in hat: You do know that the Law Lords stopped being Law Lords today don’t you?

Man in cap: Stopped being Law Lords…?  what sort of Lords are they going to be then?

Man in hat: Well.. they’re still going to be Law… Lords… as in Lords who do Law… but they won’t be Law Lords… The House of Lords… or part of it… … see… has changed into the Supreme Court….

Man in a cap: Yeah… I read about that in The Telegraph… they’ve got a new building an all…. an expensive new building…. 65 million quid  it was… did you see that? And.. I also read that new judges to this Chicken Supreme Court aren’t going to be Lords at all…. just law judges… so won’t they feel a bit left out… what with all the others being Time Lords who aren’t any longer… and that?

Man in hat: Yes… I saw that in The Mail.  Disgraceful… you’d have thought a man or woman who works all his or her  life for his or her country and goes to our highest court of law would get a Lordship wouldn’t you? … especially since all the other lords who do law but aren’t law lords any longer have got lordships.

Man in cap: So if a new judge is appointed to this Supreme Court aren’t going to be Lords what will they be?  Sirs? Dames? ….

Man in hat: Well… they will probably be Sir or Dame already because of being a High Court judge.

Man in cap: But that is a bit confusing…. I read that a judge … if a bloke… goes to the High Court… the Queen gets her sword out and he becomes a Sir and then everyone calls him My Lord. But…  he is a ‘Sir’, gets called My Lord and he  is called Mr Justice in the newspapers and on the telly…. what’s that all about then?  I’ve got a Scottish mate… he says it is even more confusing up in Scotland.  There… he says… judges of the Court of Session don’t get Lordships but are called Lord and when they go from the Outer House  to the Inner House…First or Second Division… some of them who are already called Lord… get real Lordships in the House of Lords….. and can call themselves Lord…even though they already have been calling themselves Lord… even though they aren’t Lords…. .. but they can’t call themselves Lord Lord.

Man in hat and Man in cap sip their drinks… both in a reflective mood…

Man in cap… continues: And what about the geezer who isn’t a Lord or a Sir when he leapfrogs straight from his Chambermaid  or from his law firm or university to the Supreme Court…  as is allowed… I saw that in The Telegraph… by the new laws…. does he get a Sir en route before calling himself Lord like the Scots judges ?…. and if not, why not…?

Man in hat: Fuck it… I can’t cope… fancy another?

Man in cap: Don’t mind if I do My Lord….. perhaps the new judges will be called The Supremes…..?

9 thoughts on “31st July: In conversation…..

  1. GL and Natasha… One day… and that day may never come as The Godfather used to say… it will be ….

    Good Morning Judge X… I appear for Y…….. and I have a feeling the brains, expertise and objective analysis of law presenting and judging will be just as good…. as they are now… and may even be better… because those who follow have the benefit of what has gone before…. it was ever thus?

    I am looking forward to seeing how the Supreme Court develops… how our Constitution develops … as surely it will.. given political and world events.

  2. I will plump for Supreme Justice. In conversation, it is inevitable that they will become to be known as the Supremes. For a collective noun, is there an opportunity for the blogging fraternity to adopt a word with such certainty that it assumes an authority all of its own accord c.f., the flange of gorillas on NTNON.

  3. Bar Boy: Clifford Chance was, at one time (I am told), known as the ‘Death Star’ – which meant absolutely nothing, of course, to those many of us who have no idea what Stars/stars are, let alone Star Wars.

    I rather like the idea of …. just to be post-ironic… or even neo-ironic…. a “Diana of….” … but this 15% South African wine I appear to be drinking has made me want to eat biltong and call myself Kevin Pietersen…. so I am afraid that I haven’t been that helpful to your quest.

    And on that note… if Alan Johnson wants to give me a new identity card with no Union Flag on it lest we offend people who live in our country…. I shall give it to someone in a boat who wants to get in as a gift.

  4. The Judicial Committee of The House of Lords – to be transformed on October 1st into The Supreme Court of The United Kingdom. The judges of the Supreme Court are to be styled ‘Justices of the Supreme Court’.

    Is that true? Well, one can only hope that when the Tories come in next May, they reverse all this and go back to an initial half-Lords hereditary again and then move on from there.

    Supreme Court indeed!

  5. “Overlords” were supervising aliens in an Arthur C Clarke book (“Childhood’s End”?) who oversaw the end and extinction of an independent human race.

    Seems appropriate, somehow.

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