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More urgent cases for Supreme Court 07/07/2016 The Supreme Court has seen an increase in the number of cases in which it sits as a panel of more than five Justices or where parties request the urgent hearing of a case.

More urgent cases for Supreme Court

The last financial year saw continued growth in the proportion of cases where the Supreme Court sits as a panel of more than five Justices or where parties request the urgent hearing of a case, according to the Court's Annual Report and Accounts.

The Report sets out how the Supreme Court heard slightly more appeals within fewer sitting days over the course of the year (92 appeals compared to 89 in 2014/15, heard in 104 days compared to 136 in 2014/15). The Court delivered 81 judgments, the same number as in 2014/15.

Analysis of judgments handed down by the Supreme Court during the year shows more decisions relating to children, tax and tort law (up from 1 to 5, 2 to 7 and 1 to 5 judgments respectively against 2014/15). There were no cases considering detention or extradition issues compared to five of each during the previous year.

The Court has continued to sit more often as a panel of more than five Justices. It typically does so when the Court 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 Court sat as a panel of seven or nine in 14% of appeals during 2015/16 (up from 12% last year and 9% in 2013/14).

The Court is also being asked to deal with a growing number of particularly urgent cases. The Annual Report does not detail the number of appeals where the parties formally request expedition, but the number of cases highlighted as having been dealt with within a matter of weeks from initial application to full judgment has risen from three in 2014/15 to nine this year.

Turning to permission to appeal applications, these fell (by 20% to 215), after a particularly high rate of applications in 2014/15. There was a marked decrease in requests to bring appeals on judicial review matters (from 37 in 2014/15 to 25 this year), contract law (down from 16 to 6) and employment law (15 to 9). Bucking this trend, there was an increase in the number of applications for the Court to hear appeals about immigration (up from 29 to 36).

In considering those applications, the 'grant rate' of cases given permission to appeal dropped to 32% (from 39% in 2014/15). While there were fewer applications for permission to appeal in judicial review cases, the grant rate increased (to 56% of applications), and the proportion of employment, patent, shipping and procedural cases accepted for a full hearing also increased. The Justices granted permission to appeal in a smaller proportion of criminal cases during 2015/16 than the year before.

The full Report and Accounts can found here.

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