The separ ation of powers in a state is an essential char acteristic of every
democratic country, a principle present in many constitutions, most notably that of the
The concept is imperfectly fulfilled in the United Kingdom, given that the executive
(Ministers) form par t of the legislature and that pa rt of the judiciar y (Law Lords) sit in the
As a result, it was necessa ry to remove the constitutiona l an omaly that the highest
court of a ppeal in the United Kingdom was situated within one of the chambers of
Keywords: United Kingdom, Supreme Court, House of Lords, Privy Council,
constitutional r eform.
JEL Classification: K33, K40
Until 1st of October 2009, United Kingdom didn’ t have a clas sic Supreme
Court of Justice.
These attributions were enforced by a group belonging to House of Lords.
Due to this fact, it was not a separation of powers in the british institutional
Whereas in the USA there are three “separate but equal” branches of
Government, in the United Kingdom, Parliament was its supreme and highest court
in the land seated in the House of Lords.
It was a “weak” separation.
I. General aspects
The functions of the highest courts were divided between two bodies2.
The Appellate Committee of the House of Lords received appeals from the
courts in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, and in civil cases from
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council considers questions as to
whether the devolved administrations, the Scottish Parliament, the National
Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly are acting within their
1 Ovidiu-Horia Maican - Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Law Department,
2 Department for Constitutional Affairs – Constitutional reform:A Supreme Court for the Unit ed
Kingdom, 2003, p. 10PE