U.K. Supreme Court and King’s College in London

By: Ashley Waring (JD, ’15) 

Students inside the U.K. Supreme Court

Students inside the U.K. Supreme Court

This is the second to last week in London and I am enjoying myself 100%.  The class visited the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and Professor Palmiter and I visited the law school of King’s College.

During our visit to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, we were given a tour of the Court, listened to oral arguments, and, after the oral arguments, we met with the Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore, one of the justices of the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court was established in October 2009 and assumed the functions of the House of Lords.  The Lords from the former House of Lords simply moved across the street into the Court’s new location.  Well, that’s how “the move” was described by Dr. Roderick Munday, a University of Cambridge professor the class met a few weeks ago.  Unlike the Supreme Court of the United States, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom may not strike down legislation and must rule on cases that are consistent with the European Union (EU) laws and the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

UK Supreme Court Symbol

UK Supreme Court Symbol

Trying to maintain consistency with the EU laws and the ECHR has proven to be difficult because sometimes the two are inconsistent with each other.  The case that was being argued before the Court concerned whether prisoners should be given the right to vote and if the disenfranchisement of prisoners is inconsistent with the laws of the EU and the rights under the ECHR.  Unfortunately, the EU laws and the rights under the ECHR display conflicting answers to these questions.  When we spoke with Lord Kerr, he said that unlike the U.K. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of the United States is so simple because they only have to remain consistent with one document, the United States Constitution.  This case will be a landmark decision in the U.K. and, because of its difficultly, I must admit that I am not envious of Lord Kerr at all.  A decision is expected to be made within the next few months.

Courtyard of King's College

Courtyard of King’s College

Lastly, as abovementioned, Professor Palmiter and I visited the law school at King’s College.  This law school is recognized as one of the best schools in the world.  It has even been recognized and visited by the royal family. Mooting is very popular and prestigious at the law school. In fact, it is so popular and prestigious that Queen Elizabeth sat in on one of their moot court competitions.  Further, the former President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Lord Nicholas Phillips of Worth Matravers, judged the competition that the Queen attended.  Talk about pressure! You will read more about Lord Phillips in my fourth and final blog.

Robot greeter at King's CollegeI must admit I am a little jealous of King’s College.  I mean, who doesn’t want to be in the same room as a Supreme Court justice and the Queen of England?  Also, King’s College has its very own robotic guide that welcomes you when you walk into the building. That may be a nice and fun investment that Wake Forest should make.  However, I must say, that I am not jealous of one thing.  King’s law students handwrite all of their exams.  Some exams are take home, but the majority of exams that are in-class exams that last a minimum of two hours.  Thank goodness for Exam4!

Ashley Waring is a WFU Law J.D. Candidate and will graduate in 2015. She participated in the summer London program.