News releases

06/2015 - News release

Annual Report reveals record number of visitors to UK's top court

11 June 2015

The Supreme Court welcomed almost one third more visitors last year than in 2013/14, with a record 105,000 people passing through the UK's top court to observe hearings and find out more about the Justices' work. The rise is recorded among a wealth of statistics in the Court's fifth Annual Report and Accounts, laid before Parliament today.

The Report sets out how the Supreme Court sat for more days during 2014/15 (up from 127 to 136 sitting days) though heard fewer appeals and gave fewer judgments in that time (down from 120 to 89 and from 115 to 81 respectively). This is explained by factors including longer hearings, growth in the number of appeals heard by panels of seven or nine Justices (12%, up against 9% last year) and fewer 'linked' appeals where different cases about the same legal issues are heard together.

The number of applications for permission to appeal considered by the Justices rose considerably (by 34% to 269), with a particular increase in requests to bring criminal appeals (up from 8 to 19) and public law cases about employment, housing and taxation (applications up from 7 to 15, 4 to 11, and 5 to 13 respectively). There was a drop in the number of applications for the Court to hear appeals about legal procedure (from 38 to 22).

In considering those applications, the Justices granted permission to appeal in a smaller proportion of judicial review, immigration and family law cases during 2014/15 compared to the year before. There was a corresponding increase in the proportion of criminal and housing cases accepted for a full hearing.

Analysis of judgments handed down by the Supreme Court during the year shows fewer cases considering crime, immigration and taxation issues than in 2013/14, while there were more decisions relating to prisoner detention and contract law.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which is co-located with the Supreme Court and shares that Court's administration, heard more appeals during 2014/15 (60 compared to 51) and gave considerably more judgments (57 compared to 32).

In financial terms, the Court's net operating cost (excluding an increase in the valuation of the building) fell by over £0.7m to under £4.5m when compared with the £5.2m recorded in 2013/14. The accounts show that the Supreme Court and JCPC spent £12.4m during 2014/15 (almost half of which was judicial and staff costs), and recouped almost £8m in court fees, contributions from the UK court services, and other income.

Writing in the introduction to her last Annual Report as Chief Executive, Jenny Rowe, who retires in the autumn, notes the changing constitutional context within which the Court has operated over the year, "most notably with the independence referendum in Scotland, followed by the work of the Smith Commission; and the St David's Day process in Wales. Work in both these areas is on-going and we will be keeping in touch with developments."

The Report details the ways in which the Court maintains good working relationships with each of the UK jurisdictions and broader international links with foreign judges and jurisdictions, particularly those served by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The Report also reviews the activities undertaken to support the work of Justices by the 50 members of Court staff, including projects to bring free Wi-Fi to court users, a trial of e-filing of court documents, further reduction in energy usage, and what is thought to be the first ever live production of a radio programme from a British courtroom.

The full report can be downloaded on our Publications section.

Ends

UKSC contacts:

Ben Wilson - Head of Communications
020 7960 1887

Cheryl Walmsley - Communications & Outreach Manager
020 7960 1886