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Judicial role

For centuries the House of Lords was the supreme court of appeal on points of law for the whole of the UK in civil cases and for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in criminal cases.

This was an unusual role for a legislative body: in most other Parliaments the judiciary is separate from the legislature (another term for Parliament).

From 1 October 2009 the judicial powers of the House of Lords transferred to the new and separate Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.


From the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005


A video clip on the changes to the judicial role of Parliament brought about by the creation of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom


The role of the first Justices of the Supreme Court following the creation of a separate Supreme Court


More in depth sources of information on the former judicial role of the House of Lords


How the judicial role of Parliament has functioned and evolved since the 14th century

House of Lords judgments: archive

Browse archived judgments delivered by the Law Lords from 14 November 1996 to 30 July 2009

Find out more