Primary page content

Analysis on challenges to judicial independence published in Inner Temple Yearbook

Inner Temple YearbookJudicial independence is under threat globally. Current attacks on the judiciary in the United States, for instance, are unprecedented and concerning. Or we may look at anti-terrorism measures and challenging political climates in France and the United Kingdom or Greece respectively, and we can see how they have diminished the traditional hallmarks of a strong and independent judiciary.

The need for external scrutiny therefore often becomes a priority, in cases where checks and balances in domestic law may have failed to provide protection. Poland offers a key illustration.

While all this is happening, the landscape in which judges operate is undergoing significant transformation. In recent years, judges have become less insulated from political life, as can be seen from frequent appearances before parliamentary committees. An increasingly entrenched populism, the rise of fake news and the increased role of technology in legal practice are all likewise influencing how the judiciary operates, and what pressures are exercised upon its independence.

Inner Temple Yearbook

Or we might look into ‘hidden aspects’ of judicial independence, such as the impact of budgetary control on the effective exercise of judicial functions, or how judicial self-control can play an important role in the exercise of an independent judiciary.

These are some of the key themes that have emerged from a recent British Academy conference on Challenges to judicial independence, co-convened by Goldsmiths’ Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos and Swansea’s Dr Yvonne McDermott Rees.

A first reflection on these themes, co-authored by Prof Giannoulopoulos and Dr McDermott Rees, has appeared in the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple’s prestigious Yearbook, which can be accessed here.

A video with part of the proceedings can be viewed here.


New video: challenges to judicial independence in times of crisis

Our Britain in Europe think tank published this week a video from the British Academy conference on Challenges to judicial independence in times of crisis.

The video has analysis by former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cmwgiedd; the Justice at the UK Supreme Court, Lord Kerr; Prof Kate Malleson (QMU); Dr McDermott-Rees (Swansea) and our own Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos.

Prof Giannoulopoulos, who is leading the Law programme at Goldsmiths, was the co-convenor of the conference (with Dr Yvonne McDermott Rees).

Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos opening the conference

Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos opening the conference

The conference was inspired by attacks at the British judiciary by the press, in the context of Brexit and the “Miller” judgment. It also had a strong international and interdisciplinary dimension, in response to similar attacks upon the judiciary abroad, in countries
as diverse as the United States, France, Poland, Greece and Turkey.

The conference also coincided with dramatic developments in the Worboys case, the London cab driver convicted of serious sexual offences against female passengers, and the attacks on the Parole Board that followed on from that. His Honour Jeremy Roberts QC, a member of the Parole Board for England and Wales and an expert in our ‘Britain in Europe’ thinktank, provided critical analysis of a number of issues relating to judicial independence arising out of the case, in two posts published at the British Academy’s blog

HH Jeremy Roberts QC

HH Jeremy Roberts QC

The first blog post appeared a few days prior to the conference and offered a useful introduction to issues that were discussed there: Three key issues about the Parole Board raised by the Worboys case.

The second followed up on discussions at the conference, concentrating on an examination of the High Court’s decision on the Worboys case.

The conference brought together a number of eminent experts in the area:

  • Dr Daniel Aguirre, University of Greenwich
  • Professor Ilias G. Anagnostopoulos, Athens Law School
  • Professor Vian Bakir, Bangor University
  • Dr Moa Bladini, University of Gothenburg
  • M Guy Canivet, former President, Cour de Cassation
  • Dame Sue Carr, Presiding Judge of the Midland Circuit
  • Professor Fiona De Londras, University of Birmingham
  • Professor Martina Feilzer, Bangor University Professor
  • John Jackson, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Kate Malleson, Queen Mary University of London
  • Professor Raphaële Parizot, Université Paris-Nanterre
  • His Honour Jeremy Roberts QC, The Parole Board for England and Wales
  • Professor Julian Petley, Brunel University London
  • Sir Konrad Schiemman, Court of Justice of the European Union
  • Dr Stephen Skinner, University of Exeter Professor
  • Professor David Sklansky, Stanford Law School

For more information on the conference see the British Academy webpage.

Prof Giannoulopoulos and Dr McDermott-Rees are continuing the conversation with participants in the conference on this all-important topic, with a view, potentially, of proceeding to publication of an edited collection that will aim to highlight the profound societal effect of attacks upon the judiciary, and offer reflection on how to counter them.

Former Lord Chief Justice, the Rt. Hon. the Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd

Former Lord Chief Justice, the Rt. Hon. the Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd

from left to right - Prof Vian Bakir, Judge Donald Cryan and Prof Julian Petley

from left to right – Prof Vian Bakir, Judge Donald Cryan and Prof Julian Petley