Further reform

During the 19th century a growing number of Scottish appeals, together with some Irish appeals following the 1801 Act of Union with Ireland, increased the judicial burden on the House of Lords.

Several minor reforms, including the Court of Session Act 1808, did not significantly reduce this workload, although in 1812 an Appeal Committee was established in order to consider preliminary points of procedure and petitions for leave to appeal on paper ("in forma pauperis").

The Standing Orders of the House were also amended to allow judicial business to be taken three days a week, which increased the number of appeals heard from 21 in 1812 to 81 in 1813-14. By 1820 the backlog began to grow once more.

In 1822 the Earl of Liverpool, the Prime Minister, set up a Lords select committee to examine its right to consider judicial appeals. This recommended lay Members of the House (those without judicial experience), appointed on a rota system, should consider appeals five days a week. These reforms were approved by the House in early 1824 and gradually the backlog of cases eased and the conduct of judicial business improved.

Glossary links

Did you know?

The last impeachment trials held in the House of Lords were Warren Hastings from 1788-95 and Viscount Melville in 1806.