Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Supreme Court

To most readers of Washminster the term "Supreme Court" will immediately bring to mind the magnificant white building opposite the Congress Building in Washington DC. Soon there will be a rival. This autumn the highest court in the English Legal System will cease to be the "Judicial Committee of the House of Lords" - and instead the new Supreme Court will meet across Parliament Square, in what used to be known as Middlesex Guildhall.

In a press release from the Ministry of Justice it was stated that

"The creation of a world class building for a world class institution will underscore the independence of the judiciary from Government, while emphasising the focus on justice, truth and democracy...

The renovation will restore the building to its original grandeur, as additions from the 1980's are being peeled back and removed to reveal original features, such as ornate ceilings. The historic integrity of this important building is being preserved while a modern functional and publicly accessible court space is created."

Middlesex Guildhall was built in the early years of the 20th Century in the art nouveau gothic style. It is decorated with mediæval-looking gargoyles. It incorporates in the rear a doorway dating from the seventeenth century, which was part a prison which used to stand on the site. It served originally as a County Council headquarters - but in recent years was a Crown Court.

In the House of Lords today Earl Ferrers will ask Her Majesty’s Government what is to be the postal address of the new Supreme Court. An easy enough question to answer - but of course the real interest will be in his supplementary.