U.K. Supreme Court Looks for New Judges as President Retires

  • Applications for three new judges, including court president
  • President Neuberger, Toulson and Clarke all retire from bench

The U.K. Supreme Court is searching for three new judges, including a new president, as a quarter of the 12 justices step down, with the process likely to attract increased attention following the recent Brexit decision.

The judges will replace Supreme Court President David Neuberger, 69, and Anthony Clarke, 73, who will both retire in the coming months, as well as Roger Toulson, 70, who left last year.

Lord Neuberger
Source: Supreme Court

The U.K.’s highest court attracted a spate of media attention in recent months after it was charged with deciding the manner of Britain’s exit from the European Union. On Jan. 24, the panel ruled that the government must obtain authority from Parliament to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which begins the formal process of Brexit.

The decision came after some U.K. newspapers criticized a lower court decision, saying the judges had no place meddling with the result of the referendum. The Daily Mail featured pictures of the three judges on its front page with the headline, "ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE.”

In an interview with the BBC Thursday, Neuberger criticized politicians for not doing more to defend judges over the Brexit furore.

"Some of the things that were said risked undermining the judiciary," Neuberger said. “I think that the politicians acted slower than one would have hoped and perhaps expressed themselves rather more pallidly than one would have hoped" after the media reaction to the lower court decision.

The new judicial posts can be part-time as part of Neuberger’s initiative to improve diversity on the top bench, which only has one woman.

The process starts Thursday, with one independent committee selecting the new president, and another filling the two other posts. The committees each have at least one senior judge and one lay person.

Applications close March. 10, with appointments due to be announced by July ahead of a October start date.

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