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What Is The Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal for civil cases in the UK. It’s also the final court of appeal for criminal cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Regarded as the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court plays an important role in the development of UK law.

How Are Cases Heard?

Cases at the Supreme Court are known as “appeals”. These come from the following courts:

  • The Court of Appeal (Civil and Criminal Divisions) – England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • The High Court – England, Wales and (in some limited cases) Northern Ireland
  • The Court of Session – Scotland 

The Supreme Court process


Will My Case End Up There?

For the majority of our clients, their cases are brought to a conclusion without the need to go to the Supreme Court.  Typically the cases which go to the Supreme Court are those which have a wider public interest.  For example, cases that go to Supreme Court can often lead to a change in the law.  

What Is Irwin Mitchell’s Experience With The Supreme Court?

Our expert solicitors have successfully represented clients in the Supreme Court in a range of cases, from landmark family law decisions to crucial asbestos appeals. We fight fearlessly for our clients, even if it means challenging the law to achieve a fair result.

Family Law Victory

In October 2015, Ros Bever – the head of our Family Law team in Manchester – represented two clients at the Supreme Court who were challenging the settlements they’d received after divorce. The two women claimed that their husbands had been dishonest about their wealth while going through divorce proceedings, duping the wives into accepting ‘unfair’ divorce settlements.

We successfully challenged this, with the Supreme Court ruling in our clients’ favour unanimously and stating that spouses cannot deliberately mislead the courts during divorce proceedings. Read the full story here.

Public Law Successes

Our Public Law & Human Rights team won a ground-breaking judgement in October 2014 which affected how authorities consult with local people when making cuts and changes to services.

The Supreme Court ruled that a council’s consultation on its proposed Council Tax scheme misleadingly implied that they had no choice but to make cuts affecting its poorest residents. Since the judgment, local authorities across England will need to take greater steps to involve people in its decision-making. Read the full story here.

In March 2014 we represented the mother of a disabled man in another significant public law appeal known as the ‘Cheshire West’ case, the outcome of which has affected thousands of disabled people who will now benefit from regular independent reviews of their situation.

The legal argument focused on the definition of the term ‘deprivation of liberty’ and the circumstances surrounding the protection of vulnerable adults. Cheshire West and Chester Council had removed the disabled man from his mother’s home and placed him into the care of social services. We successfully argued that the law requires safeguards to be put in place for people in such a situation so that protective care plans are regularly reviewed. Read the full story here.

Vital Changes To Asbestos Law

Our Asbestos team fought for a judgment at the Supreme Court which means asbestos-related cancer victims will receive a fair settlement to provide for their families after their death.

We acted for Percy McDonald (who sadly passed away a week prior to the trial) and his family after his life was cut short by mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure at work caused his illness but the courts had previously ruled that Percy wouldn’t receive any compensation as he wasn’t employed by the occupier of the site.

This was overruled by the Supreme Court, who established that under the Factories Act 1937, the occupier of a property is responsible for the welfare of all people on-site, not just direct employees. Read the full story here.

Contact Us Today

If you think that you have a case that needs to be taken to the Supreme Court, our lawyers’ experience changing the law means that we’re well-placed to help you make a difference. Call us free on 0370 1500 100 or contact us online.

For general enquiries

0370 1500 100