The House of Lords acts as a Supreme Court of Appeal for the UK. Full-time professional judges called the Law Lords hear public judicial hearings. Anyone can attend a judicial hearing and there is no need to arrange access in advance.
Hearings run throughout the year and take place from Monday to Thursday.
When hearing appeals, around five Law Lords meet in an Appellate Committee, which is usually located in Committee Room 1. The Law Lords hear about 85 appeals a year.
The hearings are relatively informal. Judges dress in business suits rather than robes and sit around a horseshoe table on the same level as those attending.
A notice at the St Stephen's entrance details the day's judicial business, as does the online programme. Members of the public who want to see the Law Lords in action should ask for directions from a visitor assistant or police officer at St Stephen's entrance.
Admission passes are required for legal counsel (and some clerks and solicitors) attending the hearing or judgment on an appeal. Passes are available for collection from the Pass Office from the first day on which they are required.
Applications should be made in advance by email, fax or letter to the Judicial Office. This should specify the names of counsel, and a maximum of two clerks and two solicitors for each party for whom a pass is required (including the number of days it's needed).
Applications should be made in advance by email, fax or letter to the Judicial Office. This should specify the names of counsel and a maximum of one clerk for each party for whom a pass is required.
There are two Pass Offices on the parliamentary estate. One is located on 1 Canon Row, the other by Black Rod's Garden. Both offices can issue admission passes.
If you are coming to watch a judicial hearing please inform a visitor assistant or a police officer when you arrive at St Stephen’s entrance – they will direct you to the right queue.
The judicial function of Parliament will end in 2009, when an independent UK Supreme Court is established.
Appellate Committee: Committee of Law Lords. It hears appeals from other British Courts in cases of public importance on a point of law.
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