FINAL JUDGMENT. THE LAST LAW LORDS AND THE SUPREME COURT by ALAN PATERSON

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2014.00690.x
Publication Date01 Dec 2014
AuthorSIR ROSS CRANSTON
Book Reviews
FINAL JUDGMENT. THE LAST LAW LORDS AND THE SUPREME
COURT by ALAN PATERSON
(Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2013, 366 pp., £25.00)
Forty years ago Alan Paterson had the brilliant idea for his doctoral thesis of
attempting to interview the judges in the United Kingdom's highest court, the
Appellate Committee of the House of Lords, along with the counsel who had
appeared before them in the leading cases over the then recent past. Other
researchers attempting empirical inquiry involving the judiciary and the bar
faced roadblocks, especially when they suggested interviews of the main
players. A combination of chutzpah and Scottish charm meant Paterson
achieved his goal and the product of his research saw the light of day in The
Law Lords, published by Macmillan in the Oxford Socio-Legal Studies series
in 1982. In all, Paterson was able to interview 15 serving and former law lords
(among the latter, Lords Denning and Devlin), and 46 counsel. Lord Reid,
who had been the outstanding figure in the Appellate Committee over several
decades, and whom Paterson ranks as his all-time great, readily cooperated.
Interestingly, Lord Diplock, soon to be the dominant figure in the Appellate
Committee, refused to be interviewed, despite at the time being heavily
involved in legal education as chairman of the Institute of Advanced Legal
Studies and honorary president of the Association of Law Teachers.
In Final Judgment Paterson has revisited his earlier study to describe
appellate decision making, this time in the last years of the Appellate Com-
mittee and in the early years of the United Kingdom Supreme Court from its
inception in 2009. Again he has interviewed the leading law lords and
justices ± some 27 this time ± along with members of the Court of Appeal,
counsel appearing before the two courts, and others such as judicial
assistants, a species which did not exist in the 1970s. The analysis is derived
mainly from the interviews but also from a variety of documentary sources,
notably the law reports. Importantly, Paterson has had access to the judicial
notebooks of Lord Reid and Lord Bingham, the last of the senior law lords,
which are especially valuable in recording the positions which the law lords
adopted about the outcome of a case at the judicial conference held
immediately after it was heard. These notebooks have enabled him to track
instances where the law lords changed their minds between the hearing and
when judgment in a case was finally given. As with his earlier study,
Paterson is interested in the social process of judging, not primarily in the
attitudes and values of the judges and how these might affect the reasoning
and result of a case.
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ß2014 The Author. Journal of Law and Society ß2014 Cardiff University Law School

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