Judicial Role of House of Lords and Transfer to Supreme Court of United Kingdom
Last revised March 04, 2020

Brief History

The House of Lords was the final Court of Appeal on points of law for the whole of the United Kingdom in civil cases and for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in criminal cases. Its decisions bound all courts below it. 

On June 12, 2003, the Government announced that the office of Lord Chancellor would be abolished and the judicial role of the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords would be transferred to a new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on the enactment of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. These measures were designed to emphasize the separation of powers in the constitution of the United Kingdom, as well as the independence of the judiciary.

The judicial role of the House of Lords ended 30 July 2009. From 1 October 2009, the Supreme Court assumed jurisdiction.

Access to Judgments

House of Lords judgments from 14 November 1996 to 30 July 2009 are available through the House of Lords Judgments: Archive section of the UK Parliament website.

Judgments from 1621 to 1996 can be found through the Parliamentary Archives section of the UK Parliament website. The Archives holds appeal cases and other records of the House of Lords acting in its judicial capacity.

The archived House of Lords judgments are the only case law that Parliament holds. To find other judgments, you can try searching the open access case law and legislation database, British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII).


"appellate committee" "law lords" "appellate jurisdiction act"